This mélange of softcore porn, overheated melodrama, and harrumphing moralizing transcends taste—its lurid insanity goes beyond good and bad, right and wrong. A Muslim family in L.A. is lorded over by a repressive patriarch whose Tourettic non sequiturs are directed mainly at his Westernized med-school daughter, Sahira (Ruth Osuna). She’s in puppy love with a doughy white classmate, and a late-night tryst ignites a war not of civilizations but of dramatic pauses and sweaty close-ups. The beady-eyed voyeur brother continually leers at Sahira’s shapely un-burka’d flesh and the brow-furrowing theater prof caps his big monologue with a howler Sirk couldn’t have massaged into art. Sahira’s only ally is her mother, whose chosen means of defense is almost passing out while the father dishes out bon mots like “I am judge, jury, and executioner!” It’s comic-book Islam, sheltered from offense by the ironic arms of camp until the genital mutilation scene stumbles in with horror-film detail.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 7, 2006