There’s a place for pictures like “Dancing in Twilight,” but it’s certainly not in theatres. This is basically a well-intentioned home movie about a widower’s grief, and perhaps it could serve a useful therapeutic function for someone who’s suffered such a tragedy. But an honest assessment must conclude that as a film, it would be substandard even for broadcast on a basic cable outlet.
The man in question is Madhav Singh (Erick Avari), an Indian-American businessman with a successful company in Houston, whose lovely wife Jaishree (Artee Patel) expired some months earlier of one of those terrible diseases which she managed to hide until she suddenly, and horribly, bled to death in his arms. He’s tried to cope by focusing on his work, but to no avail–his unhappiness has led to a strained relationship with his son Samir (Kal Penn). But Samir is nonetheless coming for a visit with his fiancee Nicole (Sheetal Sheth) to celebrate the engagement of the son of his father’s business partner Robert (John Davies). Robert, meanwhile, is concerned about Madhav’s inability to come to terms with his loss and hopes that the presence of April (Mimi Rogers), an academic who’s also a party guest and has long had a personal interest in Madhav, might be able to persuade him to embrace life again. But April’s mother (Louise Fletcher) believes that any match between the two wouldn’t be healthy. In the event neither April’s solicitousness nor Samir’s desire to get closer to his dad–nor Robert’s more direct, indeed tactless, encouragement–can lessen the man’s pain, though, and he finally takes what he thinks is the only way out.
This is basically soap opera material, and although there’s an attempt by the cast, scripter Rishi Vij and director Bob Roe to play down the mushy melodramatics, it doesn’t really work; the movie avoids becoming florid, over-the-top schmaltz, but, with all the supposed underplaying becomes a pedestrian snoozer instead. Repeated inserts of Jaishree dancing amount to distinct overkill, and it would be hard for anybody to pull off a scene in which father and son have a heart-to-heart out on a patio, where they have to recite lines having to do with things like how many stars there are in the sky. As if the writing weren’t a sufficiently big auditory problem, Scott Szabo has contributed a score, heavy on the cellos, that’s almost laughably mournful–and seems never to let up.
“Dancing in Twilight” will have you aching to rush out of the theatre into the sun.