It`s a Wonderful Afterlife movie review: the 21st century, smarter comedies are often plagued be the need to have a thoughtful message behind their humour. Think of Jason Reitman's growing cannon, each film with its alternative perspective. What if an intelligent comedic force didn't try for this at all? If the laughs are as strong, does it matter?
Mrs Sethi (Azmi), a fairly traditionalist Indian widow, is desperate to find a husband for her daughter Roopi (Notay). While Roopi may sound against marriage, that's really a front. The problem is that men can't see past her being a little overweight. Her mother, enraged by the families who have hurt her and let her down, takes action. When the police begin searching for the killer behind a series of curry-related murders, there's no reason to suspect Mrs Sethi. Unfortunately, the spirits of the victims return to haunt their killer, as they can't be reincarnated until their murderer has died. She has no problem with ending her own life, but not until her daughter has found a husband. Reluctantly, the spirits agree to help, and the right man just might be on the horizon.
It's A Wonderful AfterlifeThe important part first: this film is hilarious. There are sight gags (many owing to the film's effect work), there's conceptual humour, and a virtual assault of great lines. Many of the best are uttered by veteran television actor Sanjeev Bhaskar, who appears as a spirit, with his guts hanging out for the entire film. His sarcastic and at times dry delivery is one of the film's great strengths. One of many.
Owing to the film's styling as an Ealing comedy, the effects were all done before the camera; no CGI being used at all. The filmmakers have been quite eloquent about this, but it's pretty obvious, and beneficial to the humour. The purposefully low-fi look adds a level to the film's visual distinctiveness. This was already pretty deep, being an Indian heavy killer-comedy set in present day Ealing.
The sound effects and design give great anchorage to the spirits and other paranormal happenings. They're eerie and haunting, but, given the film's tone, nothing frightens. Much has been made of the music, but I can take it or leave it.
True, the film doesn't say anything unique. There's an affirmative message, but its one we've heard a million times, and is fairly arbitrary. We arrive at this message through most of the standard plot points. This doesn't matter in the least, because the film is irresistibly funny, has a great visual sense, and is memorable for these things.
The Verdict: 'It's A Wonderful Afterlife' tells the story of Mrs Sethi, who, in the process of finding a husband for her daughter, commits a series of murders. The spirits of the dead come back, and wind up helping her. While there's no real message we haven't heard a million times, the film is hilarious and has a great sense of style.
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