Sunday, 20 April 2014

All In Good Time (2012)

All In Good Time has something of a long legacy which has been little publicised (save perhaps for the North West at least where it did get a nice piece paying tribute to its legacy on North West Tonight) So as well as reviewing the film, let's use this post as a bit of an explanation to its history

It first saw the light of day as a 1961 TV play entitled Honeymoon Postponed, before becoming All In Good Time, a stage play in 1963.  It was then remade as an excellent 1966 film The Family Way which starred that dream and dreamy partnership of Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills, alongside Hayley's father John. 

In all these guises, it was written by Bill Naughton, the Bard of Bolton, who was responsible for such greats as Alfie and Spring and Port Wine both of which were made into movies in the 60s starring Michael Caine and James Mason respectively.

Bill Naughton with wife, Erna

In 2007 Ayub Khan-Din, star of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and writer of East Is East remade Naughton's work as Rafta Rafta, a stage play substituting Naughton's original characters for a contemporary British Asian setting. Teaming up with Made In Dagenham director Nigel Cole, Khan-Din's version has now become the 2012 film All In Good Time, reverting back to Naughton's original title.

Not much has changed between Naughton piece and Khan-Din's piece. The setting is still Bolton and a poky terraced house in a tiny redbrick street full of prying neighbours and strong traditional values. Indeed much of the dialogue is almost word for word the same - including one infamous line that always guarantees a laugh both in the original from Liz Fraser's lips and in this uttered by Christine Bottomley. The plot still concerns the marriage of two young lovers, who are novices in the way of love and too broke to buy a house of their own. So, they move in to the family home and find themselves driven to distraction, unable to consummate their love for another.

In reworking the piece for a British Asian cast, Khan-din taps into the implicit similarities across the cultures. Naughton's original showed men at their most brash, loud mouthed and boastful whilst indicating that it was the women, the matriarchs, who truly ruled the roost. What was true of 1960s Lancashire is just as true for the Asian community seen here in the same region.

Harish Patel plays the new husband's father,
a role previously played by John Mills

The only real changes to the plot actually contribute to the success of this adaptation and its ability to still feel contemporary. It would be extremely fanciful to suggest that a Mills and Bennett for today, a young white couple in 2012, would reach the altar as virgins, yet that is a more acceptable and realistic representation for a more conservative community like the Hindu one shown here.

Shy newlyweds 1966 and 2012 style;
Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett
Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan

You really can't see the join. The acting is of a good standard with Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan especially engaging as the two newlyweds and Harish Patel providing a strong mix of comedy and pathos as the boy's father. Cole's direction is also as pleasing as ever and with this and the aforementioned Made In Dagenham he's fast becoming the go to man for any film that harks back to the charms of a different era and he so easily replicates the feeling of such classics.

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