After struggling to make it in New York, Aretha Gupta has returned home to Florida to reconnect with her family while she figures out what to do next. While working in her father’s Indian restaurant, her best friend, Chelsea stops in and convinces her to come next door to join the local campaign organization for Barrack Obama. Across the street is the local headquarters for the John McCain supporters. While out running, a man runs up beside her and begins to talk her up. While she avoids him initially, he continues to lay on the charm, but she eventually learns that he holds the same position see does with the McCain organization. While they slowly develop their secret relationship, the campaigns continue to push forward. When a scandal tarnishes her reputation and forces her to step down from her post, she falls into a dilemma to determine whether she can stay engaged in the campaign efforts and whether she can maintain a relationship with her political opponent.
Starring: Brian White (Kyle Franklin), Mallika Sherawat (Aretha Gupta), Loretta Devine (Shirlee Gupta), Gerry Bednob (Vijay Gupta), Anil Raman (Marvin Gupta), Gabrielle Dennis (Chelsea), Ruby Dee (Aretha’s Grandmother), Will Keenan (Terrence Miller), Sueann Han (Bianca), Ian Reed Kesler (Brent Murphy), Carlene Moore (Kathleen)
This romantic comedy has a few recognizable personalities but is led by a few lesser known talents. Mallika Sherawat serves as the determined young Aretha, whose struggles in her political life mirror the challenges in her personal life. Sherawat gives a dynamic performance and seems to be the most genuine personality in the film. Playing opposite of Sherawat is Brian White as Kyle Franklin. White maintains a very reserved personality, giving a more stereotypical representation of a Republican. Even in the face of scandal, he appears to be reserved and composed. Loretta Devine makes an appearance as the completely exaggerated and boisterous mother of Aretha and Gerry Bednob appears as the conservative, reserved and grouchy father. Anil Raman plays Aretha’s brother, a man who has not chosen a path to follow in adulthood. As her best friend, Gabrielle Dennis does not contribute much more than a supporting role. Ruby Dee plays Aretha’s sweet and energetic grandmother who clearly has a strong appreciation for the Democratic candidate.
As a way to tell the story of the 2008 election in an indirect way, William Dear uses the love story of Aretha and Kyle and the relationship drama of Shirlee and Vijay Gupta to represent the larger struggle between the two major parties during the election. Aretha came back to Florida unsure of herself and looking for a new passion. Though she did not seem to be that invested when she first walked into the campaign office, it became a strong passion for her shortly after she took on a major volunteer coordination role. Meeting Kyle was a mixed bag for her because she was clearly attracted to him, but his political beliefs and her past experiences with men had caused her to be very cautious with opening up to his charm. While their relationship included many of the same struggles that many other young couples can have, the political involvement prevented them from being open to the other’s choices and their friends/colleagues maintained a disdain for their union.
As for Shirlee and Vijay, their relationship had a similar polticial challenge. While Shirlee revealed her strong Democratic leaning early in the film, Vijay’s conservative side was expressed at numerous junctions but only in the context of McCain during the political rally in the park. The film starts with the couple taking a break and Shirlee leaving to live with her mother across the street. As Shirlee works on the Obama campaign and meets an older hippie named Glen, a jealousy and distrust builds between the couples. What Shirlee realizes in the end is that she can strive for big things and seek out opportunities for change, but she does not have to leave her husband to make it happen. There is a similar parallel in politics in that a love for one’s country can coexist with beliefs on how to improve government from either of the main political ideologies. Compromise does not actually mean failure in the context of politics.
Although the theme of the film is entertaining, the acting is cheesy at times and the storyline is fairly predictable. There are still some humorous moments and a decent weaving together of political issues and the romantic story.
Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5