IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE (12A, 100 mins) 6/10
GURINDER Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham and Bride And Prejudice, shares her affection for Frank Capra and the Ealing comedies of the 1940s and 1950s in this shattershot, feelgood romantic comedy.
Equal parts humour, horror and romance, It’s A Wonderful Afterlife is warm and fluffy like a freshly-baked naan bread, which just happens to be an unlikely weapon of choice for a serial killer who runs amok in the film.
Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges struggle to strike a perfect balance between the genres, and the tonal gear changes are occasionally crunching.
A fantasy sequence inspired by the prom scene in Carrie is hysterical, but seems to belong to a different film entirely, and the script backs itself into a corner to find a denouement that pleases everyone.
Yet for its obvious flaws, Chadha’s film holds its characters in high affection and effortlessly curries our sympathy for its overweight heroine as she searches for everlasting love in a society that values good looks above a good heart.
Fast-rising cop DS Murthy (Sendhil Ramamurthy) transfers back to his home turf to work under DI Smythe (Mark Addy) and help solve a spate of bizarre murders in the local Indian community.
While meeting residents, Murthy runs into childhood friend Roopi (Goldie Notay), with whom he has always shared a spark.
Roopi’s mother, Mrs Sethi (Shabana Azmi) is delighted – maybe she will be finally able to marry off her overweight, self-conscious daughter.
However, there is a problem. Mrs Sethi is the unlikely serial murderer that Murthy and his colleagues are hunting.