Film Review: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

01/05/2010

Director Gurinder Chadha said in a recent interview that she was sick of making romantic comedies. Perhaps not the best way to promote your new film; a romantic comedy.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife tells the story of Roopi, a British-Asian woman, and her mother who is desperate to see her daughter married. So desperate in fact, that she has taken to murdering those who get in the way…

The story is very flimsy, based on a rather ridiculous premise. This would not matter if the film was consistently humorous. However, the film is weak in this area; although there are some funny gags, it lacks the frequency of comedy you would hope for from this genre.

Goldy Notay shines in It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, giving an earnest performance despite the material she has to work with. The one highlight of this film is in its casting of Notay as the leading lady; it is refreshing to see someone in this role who is not stereotypically attractive, as with most rom-coms. Thus, when she struggles to find a partner or laments her situation, the audience can believe her.

It is a pity that less effort was spent developing the other characters in the film. Sendhil Ramamurthy is attractive as the love interest, but there is not much else too him. One is never given too much of an impression as to how his character feels, or his motivations. Sally Hawkins is bright and entertaining as the best friend Linda, although her Carrie-inspired sequence goes on a lot longer than necessary, thus losing any initial amusement.

It is decidedly positive that Chadha has chosen to take a different direction. Whilst Bend It Like Beckham was a fun and engaging film; this most recent offering  is far less inspired. Coupled with this is Chadha’s inclination to offer a very similar, stereotypical depiction of Asians (particularly Asian parents) in almost all her films. By avoiding the romantic comedy genre, hopefully her next film will offer more originality.

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