Dir. Nigel Cole, UK, 2012, 94 mins
Review by Carol Allen
After the indifferent West is West, which was the recent limp and late sequel to his 1999 hit film East is East, writer Ayub Khan Din is well back on form here. Like East is East, All in Good Time was first a play (Rafta Rafta at the National Theatre), which was itself based on Bill Naughton’s sixties play of the same name, later filmed as The Family Way. No apologies for the literary history lesson, as what Khan Din has done here is spot the close relationship and similarities between British working class culture of the fifties and sixties, as in Naughton’s play, and the contemporary British Asian culture of the people who are now living in those two up, two down terraced house communities. The families may be different but the family tensions remain the same.
The film opens with a deliciously exotic Indian wedding and then brings us down to earth by showing us it’s taking place in a scout’s hall in Bolton. Although directed by white Brit Nigel Cole, it manages to rival even Gurinder Chadha’s extravagant and witty treatment of such sequences.
The basis of the story is the problem experienced by the young newly weds, Atul and Vina (Ritchie and Karan), who find that starting married life in a tiny, thin walled house with his parents and particularly Atul’s conflict with his blustering father Eeshwar (Patel), make it impossible for them to consummate their marriage.
Despite the possible pitfalls of the subject, the film is funny without ever being gross. The characters are all very likeable, even the appropriately irritating and full of himself Eeshwar. The young couple are appealing, and there’s a particularly strong performance from Meera Syal as Atul’s mother, Lopa, whose multi-layered characterization of a woman who has endured a lot in her marriage but has soldiered on with humour and persistence is both funny and touching.
The characters may be Asian but the situations and the comedy are universal. There’s also an effective trio of gossiping women neighbours, who act as a kind of chorus commenting on the action, which gives the film a nice edge