All In Good Time A scene from All In Good Time
This breezy, warm-hearted Anglo-Asian comedy follows the tradition of populist British films to please mass audiences - The Full Monty, East is East, Calendar Girls, Made in Dagenham. You’ll know to expect comedy and drama, tears and laughter.
The story will be familiar to anyone who remembers the 1960s film The Family Way, starring John Mills and his daughter Hayley – or the play on which it was based, Bill Naughton's All in Good Time. This was the source material for the film, written by Ayub Khan-Din (East is East).
Harish Patel is the overbearing father in an Anglo-Asian family in Bolton. His wife (Meera Syal) is a wiser, gentler soul. Their elder son Atul (Reece Ritchie), who does not get along with his father, has just married the lovely young innocent Vina (Amara Karan). But their honeymoon is cancelled, and they stay together in his parents’ tiny terraced house.
The title reflects the couple’s inability to consummate their marriage in such cramped circumstances, unable to spend time alone and constantly hectored by the interfering father.
Fittingly, it’s a claustrophobic film. Nigel Cole, who directed Calendar Girls and Made in Dagenham, makes us realise how hemmed in the couple must feel. There’s a touching secret between the parents which is finally revealed and resolves the drama.
This is touching, poignant and often witty, with excellent performances throughout. It’s intriguing how effortlessly Bill Naughton’s original story, also set in Bolton, can be transposed to Britain’s Asian community.
If you remember Jacques Demy’s charming film musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, you’ll feel on familiar ground with the first half-hour of Christophe Honoré’s Beloved, and not just because Catherine Deneuve features in its cast.
It’s a story of one French family, their lives, loves and losses, seen from the viewpoint of a mother and daughter (Deneuve and her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni). Effectively it’s a soap opera played out over 45 years, hopping from one glamorous international location to another.
It starts out well enough in 1960s Paris with Ludivine Sagnier as Madeleine, a young salesgirl in a chic shoe store. In the style of Demy, she bursts into songs that comment on the story and her feelings. She ‘accidentally’ falls into prostitution, and thus meets a dashing young Czech doctor with whom she falls in love and follows to Prague.
She’s there just in time to see the Russians invade – a plot device that is echoed throughout the film. As the years go by, Deneuve takes over as the older Madeleine, while Mastroianni is cast as a woman unlucky in love. And the plot gets terribly bogged down.
Annoyingly all the exotic backdrops are used to bolster a rather laborious story, and momentous events – the outbreak of Aids, 9/11 – are introduced to make the comings and goings of this family more dramatic than they really are.
Despite all this, and despite its 135-minute running time, I was never quite bored, though the film’s faults are in evidence throughout. It’s glossy entertainment, easily forgotten.