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'Nina's' barely simmers

The love story between two Scottish women revolves around food but has little flavor.

November 21, 2007|Michael Ordona | Special to The Times

There are a few surprising flavors in "Nina's Heavenly Delights," but it's more of a samosa than a meal. The ceiling is set pretty low when characters start exhorting each other to "follow your heart." Which they do, early and often.

"Nina" is a fairly ordinary romantic comedy whose star-crossed lovers happen to be Scottish women, one of Indian descent. The title character, returning home after her chef- father's death, resolves to win a cooking contest in his honor, while everyone she loves struggles with artificial obstacles somehow keeping them from happiness.

Andrea Gibb's ("Dear Frankie") screenplay, from director Pratibha Parmar's ("Warrior Marks") story, is stunted by nail-on-head dialogue and pro forma scenes -- there's even a sing- and dance-along to "Daydream Believer" around the dinner table. It is, in fact, that kind of movie. Will the secret romances flourish? Will the younger sister follow her dream . . . and dance? Will Nina be second to nan?

Making her feature debut after several documentaries, Parmar displays rookie jitters with excessive cutting and camera moves whose restlessness occasionally recalls Mumbai soap operas.

She also fails to make the cooking scenes mouthwatering, although a couple of (chaste) romantic moments between Nina (the lovely but stiff Shelley Conn) and Lisa (the charming Laura Fraser) are occasionally some spicy vindaloo.

"Nina's Heavenly Delights."

MPAA ratings: PG-13 for some sexual content. 1 hour, 34 minutes. At the Regent Showcase, 614 N. La Brea Ave.

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