All in Good Time lightens up weighty family matters
All in Good Time is the latest offering from East is East scribe Ayub Khan-Din. Adapted from his play Rafta, Rafta, it’s another humorous look into serious matters of south Asian culture within England. With Nigel Cole (Made in Dagenham, Calendar Girls) in the director’s chair, the film’s weighty subject matter is balanced with charming comedic touches throughout, until the final scene that lands like a punch to the gut.
At the centre of All in Good Time are newlyweds Atul (Reece Ritchie) and Vina (Amara Karan). Following a wedding marred by the antics of Atul’s father Eeshwar (Harish Patel) the couple find themselves stuck at his parents’ home when the honeymoon falls through. Up to this point, All in Good Time strikes a festive and light-hearted tone, even as tensions between father and son begin to show. However, as the film progresses Atul is unable to consummate his marriage with Vina and dramatic cracks begin to form. Despite their efforts often being presented in an amusing light, the dark side of All in Good Time begins to rear its head and this is when it begins to excel. Exploration of the relationship between Atul and Eeshwar is at the heart of matters, but many other issues are highlighted along the way. It paints a fascinating portrait of Indian culture for those unfamiliar whilst adding elements that are more universal, such as insecurity-driven resentment and show that close-knit Indian communities are certainly not impervious to malicious gossip. While there is a fair share of sex jokes, All in Good Time ends up being just as much a drama as comedy, and a painfully bittersweet one at that.
The performances mesh well with one another and the relationship between Atul and Eeshwar seems genuinely strained. Patel makes the buffoonish Eeshwar easily likable with his laidback charm, despite his boozy, bossy exterior. He may be too amiable even, as when Atul lashes out, even when doing so understandably, it’s difficult to not feel sympathetic towards his father. Yet, this will prove important later on and makes the ending that more powerful. As the young couple, Ritchie and Karan exhibit easy chemistry allowing for their struggling relationship to matter. When Atul’s bruised ego begins to overtake his life, Ritchie wears the frustration well. The collaborative effort of the entire cast is All in Good Time’s strongest suit, from the leads down to the catty neighbours.
Where the film stumbles is with the final act’s resolution. So smartly laid out and delivered up to that point, All in Good Time succumbs to a cheesy feel-good moment and a resolution that feels far too quick and easy given the apparent damage that had been done. It feels like the film-makers lost sight of the central conflict in order to race to the final reveal. While the conclusion of the sub-plot is very well executed, the closure of the central story deserves more time to dig a bit deeper, especially when it comes to Atul’s nature.
Even if the ending elicits mixed emotions, intentionally or otherwise, All in Good Time delivers a lot of laughs alongside a compelling family drama. With themes universally relatable within an ethic environment, the film aims beyond the Indian community and is deserving of a wide audience. Boosted by a cast giving their all and an intelligently enjoyable script, slightly let down by a rushed finale, All in Good Time is time well spent. 8/10