My parents proposed that I come with them to see this film and I replied with scorn, having seen a happy-clappy trailer presenting a film resembling a Mama-Mia sequel.
When my family and I took our seats in our small town cinema (half an our early as obsessive people like my parents insist) the cinema was very nearly full, and as the showing time approached, the auditorium filled to capacity — 90% of the audience had grey hair.
The introduction, a part of a film which has the potential for supremacy, was able and slick, and with a definite Reservoir Dogs tint. The music was not the tiresome brand which is often dragged out, and as Evelyn (Judy Dench) got marooned in a call centre one could feel and hear the audience sympathising with her. The film is able, as the characters are introduced, to present them with a large degree of depth in a very short period, through convincing jokes and other devices, establishing the personnel firmly in a very short time — an impressive and concentrated piece of cinema.
The film’s humour was varied and was usually put to a good utility, although it was curious to be in a cinema audience when a character apparently dies then reanimates and to hear the viewers around me chortle. A very interesting example was when the casually racist Muriel (Maggie Smith) is invited to the house of the untouchable servant who respects her simply because she pays her attention. When the guest arrives she finds something like a two-bedroom house filled with around 20 people, those present laughed heartily, and by causing laughter at the absurdity the film was able to purvey the utter travesty to the audience.
The motion picture didn’t just address the caste system. It made a point about the problems which the Indian and British systems have concerning homosexuality; with a with a more personal effect than if a pundit took the stage and expounded on the sexual inequities of society; the poignancy of a man’s suspended and subjugated love is moving and useful.
Arranged marriage completes the triptych of side-points which the film makes. It is very affecting to see the hotel owner Sonny’s (Dev Patel) mother try to keep him from his girlfriend in the same way that her mother made such an attempt with her. An example of a person who was once radical becoming conservative with age and seeking to temper the same radicalism in her child.
The score was marginal, the introductory music had a little more depth than usual, and the ethnic music was fantastic (though I will have to defer to an expert for a comment on authenticity); however, there seemed to be a loss of effort in some places, deferring to the cliché film music which is only functional.
The photography was very impressive, helping to convince the audience both of the colour and of the tragedy which were present; it made me want to go to India, though I’m sure that it is far from being that simple.
The film was nothing of the tripe which I had expected from the trailer, and was able, with the kind of expertise with which Muse sneak classical harmonies into a marketable rock song, to make some crucial points convincingly and with a certain amount of refinement; while being pleasant to watch for all present. As was demonstrated reassuringly and considerately in the film: when tradition, old age and bankruptcy are closing in; love will out.