Film buffs with longish memories will recognise something at the heart of Ayub Khan-Din’s All in Good Time.
That heart is Bill Naughton’s play The Family Way, filmed in 1966 with Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills.
It later made its way back to the theatre as Rafta, Rafta, produced by the National Theatre and it is in that form that Khan-Din, the man behind East is East and its sequel West is West, brings it to the screen again.
The tale – two Anglo-Asian newlyweds find it impossible to consummate their marriage while living in the bridegroom’s parents’ house – has a feel of growing up in the Britain of the 1970s.
In that respect it presents a similar backdrop to East is East with the blinkered Dad being a near cousin to Om Puri’s monstrous, unfeeling patriarch.
It also boasts a premier comic performance from the magnificent Harish Patel as the father, stealing the film as the appallingly unthinking Dad.
This is barnstorming on a grand scale and the film just about manages to contain it.
Coming from Nigel Cole, the director behind Calendar Girls and Made in Dagenham, All in Good Time should have been a great deal sharper, and much funnier. Instead it has the soft approach favoured by Gurinder Chadha. The jokes are slyly funny but there are not enough of them. It also feels terribly old-fashioned and somewhat anorexic.
Amara Karan and Reece Ritchie are the loved-up youngsters eager to kick-start their marriage with some grade-A rumpy-pumpy.
They bring plausible frustration and angst to their mistimed attempts at trysting. Sadly the spontaneous approach doesn’t do it. Planning doesn’t work. As for the wedding night... disaster. Sex in a small house really is an oxymoron.
This is a film that lacks zing. Patel and Meera Syal, playing his long-suffering wife, bring much-needed zest and weariness to their characters.
A trio of female neighbours, ever-present and watchful like witches in Macbeth, are both welcome and a cliché. However the two young leads have a special something. There is discernible chemistry and they are very nice to look at.
What they and Cole needed was a script with added punch.