It's A Wonderful Afterlife
Review by Jack Foley
QUITE what Gurinder Chadha was thinking when she made It’s A Wonderful Afterlife is anyone’s guess given that the finished result is such an ill-conceived and hideous mess.
Part rom-com, part serial killer thriller and part supernatural comedy with schlock-horror elements, the film is a woefully misguided attempt at a comedy that struggles to convince on any level.
The story follows widower Mrs Sethi (Shabana Azmi) as she attempts to find a suitable husband for her loving but overweight daughter Roopi (Goldy Notay).
In doing so, she kills anyone who dares belittle her daughter, prompting the local Ealing police to launch a murder investigation for a curry serial killer.
Leading this investigation is Indian detective DS Murthy (Heroes‘ Sendhil Ramamurthy), a former childhood friend of Roopi, who begins to develop his own feelings for her, while reluctantly helping Mrs Sethi in her quest are the ghosts of the people she’s murdered – all desperate to atone for their lifelong sins and find a path to the afterlife and possible reincarnation.
If the above synopsis sounds even remotely appealing, then maybe It’s A Wonderful Afterlife has something for you. If not, then steer well clear as anyone expecting a charming British comedy in the style of Bend It Like Beckham had best think again!
Chadha reveals her intentions from the word go with a distasteful homage to Alien involving an exploding curry stomach, and proceeds to wrongfoot viewers at every opportunity – but not in a good way.
Nothing about the movie works, from the lame special effects to the lacklustre chemistry that exists between its principal players. Relationships feel forced, jokes are laboured and most of the storylines feel contrived.
Notay emerges with most credit, infusing her central character with a humility befitting the story, but she’s let down badly by Chadha’s tepid screenplay, which throws weight gags around like cheap pot-shots and makes light of arranged marriages and even murder.
Homages to everything from old Ealing comedies to horror classics such as Carrie only serve to underline how crass and wide of the mark It’s A Wonderful Afterlife is… leaving you hungry to revisit those past glories rather than anything more Chadha has to serve up.
This is, quite comfortably, one of the worst movies you’re likely to see this year!
Running time: 1hr 40mins
UK DVD Release: August 16, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Gurinder Chadha interview
- Sendhil Ramamurthy interview
- Goldy Notay interview