FAULT Film: All In Good Time review

Khan-Din, the writer most famous for East Is East and Calendar Girls is more than familiar with addressing serious and often difficult themes in a humorous and heart felt way. All In Good Time echoes this and although a different style in many respects, the film is still recognizably within the genre he has cultivated and made his own.

All in Good Time is a hilarious and, at times, heart-breaking film based on the complex relationships within two Hindu families in the North of England who are brought together by the marriage of two young people. Set in Bolton in the present day, it sits comfortably in a tradition of gritty, northern, working class films dating back to the 1960’s (think ‘A Kind of Loving’ & ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’). Starting life as a play by Bill Naughton in 1965, the production has been reworked and rejuvenated by Ayub Khan-Din, first as a stage production called Rafta Rafta, which won the Olivier Award for best new comedy and now as a film.

Initially, the film appears to concentrate on the marriage of the bride (Vina Karan) and groom (FAULT Issue 11 star Reece Ritchie) and the subsequent difficulties they encounter in consummating their relationship, due to the intrusive behaviour and activities of their families, most notably the groom’s father (a humorous and impactful performance by Harish Patel as a Hindu equivalent of Om Puri, who played the Muslim paterfamilias in East is East). Gradually, however, through a carefully placed, accumulating sub-narrative more complex and darker themes emerge relating to other relationships in the families, notably the bride and groom’s parents.

Coming of age, dysfunctional relationships and family rites of passage are themes frequently tackled by writers, musicians and filmmakers alike. It is therefore not always easy to make a stand out feature when reworking such familiar areas. All In Good Time tackles the challenge and achieves a fresh and believable take on a subject, which is all too familiar for many.

From the opening scene it’s clear that Khan-Din is actively trying to combat the stereotypes that he himself has contributed towards in his earlier works. Viewers are confronted with a traditional Hindu wedding. With no back story to refer to and the frenetic activity and dramatic camera work adding another level of spirit to the lavish scenes, it would be easy to begin expecting the all too common forced loveless marriage meets rebellious teens story line. Here it is different though, from the moment the bride and groom lay eyes upon each other it is clear that the marriage is one of true love and this aspect of the storyline remains extremely convincing throughout. This active evoking and then evading of a stereotype is a recurring factor throughout All In Good Time, with character revelations and unexpected plot twists aplenty. There are a number of too-easy-to-predict, eye-rolling moments to be found throughout film but these simply enhance the all round charm and capture the viewer’s emotions with a true sense of inclusion and insight.

Although comparisons with controversial yet revolutionary East Is East are inevitable, both films tread decidedly different pathways. The ending of All In Good Time differs particularly, ending on an intensely moving, bittersweet note as the focus of the narrative begins to change. Meera Syal as the groom’s mother and Harish Patel as the father are perfect in their roles, the fantastic on-screen chemistry between them is no doubt a continuation of the relationship they built when they both starred in the original stage production. This chemistry is something mirrored by the two younger stars Ritchie and Karan whose portrayal of the naive teens is perfectly on point.

There is a fine line between crass and class when it comes to creating a comic drama, particularly when the focus is placed on situations and people who could so easily become cardboard stereotypes and also in this case assumptions about race and religion. All In Good Time does well to walk this line perfectly and as a whole does so with such ease and fluency that the difficult issues encountered slip almost unnoticed into the over-riding humour and good nature of the film.

All in Good Time is out on DVD on 24th September 2012 (UK)
Review by Louis Sheridan