The World Unseen (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner01/04/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Sharif's second film maintains the small screen soap opera feel of I Can't Think Straight, but it remains a watchable lesbian romance, heightened by strong central performances from Ray and Sheth.

What's it all about?
Based on another of her novels, writer-director Shamin Sharif's follow-up to I Can't Think Straight reunites its stars Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth and places them in 1950s South Africa for another slice of lesbian romance. Ray plays Miriam, a housewife who's just given birth to her third son and is worried that her husband Omar (Parvin Dabas) may be fooling around with her duplicitous best friend Farah (Natalie Becker).

However, everything changes when Maria meets free-spirited cafe owner Amina (Sheetal Sheth) and there's an instant spark between them. As both women deal with day-to-day issues of apartheid, prejudice, sexism and family-enforced cultural pressures, Amina (who is, essentially, out, if only by virtue of her trouser-wearing ways) leads Maria to question whether the two of them could actually embark on a relationship.

The Good
Sharif's direction and scriptwriting have both improved since her debut feature and, taken at the level of lesbian soap opera-slash-romance, The World Unseen just about works. To that end, it's easy to see why Sharif recast her two leads, because there's extraordinary chemistry between them and you genuinely root for them to get together.

As with I Can't Think Straight, Sharif's strengths as a director lie in the love scenes; they're erotically charged and surprisingly powerful.

The Bad
The World Unseen also manages to improve upon its predecessor by fleshing out some of the supporting cast, most notably in an emotionally engaging sub-plot involving Amina's business partner (David Dennis) and his relationship with a lonely white postmistress (Grethe Fox). That said, the majority of the cast stick closely to their shallow stereotypes, particularly the police, who might as well be wearing T-shirts that say evil bastards.

Worth seeing?
The World Unseen is a watchable and engaging lesbian romance-slash-soap opera, though it would probably be more at home on the small screen.

Film Trailer

The World Unseen (12A)
The World Unseen has been reviewed by 2 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 22/07/2018 17:42

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films