Culture-Crossed Lovers

Shiva Rose, center, is beguiling as Layla in
Shiva Rose, center, is beguiling as Layla in "David & Layla." (David & Layla)
Friday, August 3, 2007

Take the star-crossed romance of "Romeo and Juliet," add some graphic sexual humor a la "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and toss into the crucible of Middle East politics, and you get "David & Layla," a frothy little romantic comedy starring David Moscow and Shiva Rose.

Moscow plays David Fine, the host of a New York cable TV show about contemporary sexual manners; while he's conducting his horn-dog-on-the-street interviews in Brooklyn he becomes smitten with Layla (Rose), a beguiling, be-veiled Iraqi Kurd who barely gives him a second glance.

But David -- who suffers from a panoply of sexual anxieties and commitment issues -- persists, and soon the two are introducing each other to their respective families and explaining, at the Fine Passover celebration, that one reason tonight is like no other night is that David is converting to Islam.

Inspired by a real-life couple now living in Paris, "David & Layla" is suffused with the warmth and passion of filmmaker Jay Jonroy, whose own family was victimized under Saddam Hussein. If the film sometimes feels more staged than lived, it can't be accused of insincerity. The two leads are suitably appealing, especially the lovely Rose, who has some sexy scenes at a belly-dancing club. And look for the always wonderful Callie Thorne as David's erstwhile fiancee; every scene she's in crackles with unhinged hilarity.

-- Ann Hornaday

David & Layla R, 108 minutes Sexual content, some profanity, brief drug use. At Annapolis Harbour and AMC Loews Shirlington.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company