All in Good Time – Film Review

Director: Nigel Cole

Starring: Amara Karan, Reece Ritchie and Harish Patel

Distributor: Studio Canal

The writer of the celebrated, and critically acclaimed, East is East returns with another look at family life in his latest film All in Good Time. Like East is East, we follow the exploits of an Indian family living in central Britain. However, the film itself is unsure about what kind of tone it is trying to set, jumping carelessly between playful humor and serious issues. As a result, it is an uneven affair, and rather unsatisfying overall.

Set in Bolton, young Atul and Vina are celebrating their marriage amongst their extensive families. The families are strong believers in tradition, but Atul and Vina are accepting of this because it is clear that they love each other. However, complications arise with their honeymoon, forcing the newlyweds to spend the following weeks living with Atul’s parents. Already difficult enough to live with, Atul’s father, Eeshwar, inadvertently thwarts every opportunity Atul has of consummating the marriage.

Some films make the balance between drama and comedy seem so natural that it is easy to forget that combining the two is a delicate process. For a quirky drama such as this, laughs should arrive in such a way that they ease the tension of the aforementioned drama, releasing the tension among the audiences, but not negating the effects of the scenes themselves. Here, however, the timing is atrocious, and not helped by the fact that most of the comedy is as humorous as a dead starfish.

Atul’s co-workers in the Bollywood cinema provide most of the comic (for want of a better word) relief. His manager is a lecherous scab, insisting on using the projector for the more raunchy films in the theater. The other is a well meaning dullard that is just happy to have popcorn everyday for breakfast.

Atul’s father is probably meant to come across as comical, but more often than not, he is simply depicted as obscene. His comments on Atul’s masculinity are unsettling rather than humorous, and the way he behaves at the wedding borders on the unhinged. In fact, the greatest feat that the film achieves is in managing to turn his almost satirically loathsome caricature into a genuinely sympathetic character by the end credits.

Where the film is successful is in its more emotional moments. It has the potential to be a deep and involving story, especially considering most of the cast have the ability to hand in decent performances. A scene in which the relationship between Eeshwar and his estranged best friend is handled particularly well. The focus on this subplot is minimal, which is a shame, as it tends to evoke the best performances from the cast.

Vina is especially good in her role, convincingly portraying a decent Indian girl that has grown up in a rough British setting. Atul, meanwhile, seems a little too righteous to be a believable character, although his anger and frustration are utterly convincing. In one scene, he confronts Eeshwar about the way he is treated. It has Atul totally animated and passionate, whereas the usually dismissive and arrogant Eeshwar is laid bare emotionally.

This is a rare moment in the film unfortunately. Almost immediately after this, the tone shifts to become quirky and carefree. The closing scenes are almost comical in the way in which they are handled. And then, just to confuse the audience further, it ends on a particularly dark note that is completely at odds with the ridiculously light hearted scenes that preceded it.

The film’s potential shines through in some of the more emotional scenes. However, despite these moving moments and decent performances by the cast, it is a wholly unbalanced affair. Like the phrase itself, All in Good Time is quite frustrating, despite its good intentions.

Score: 2/5

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