Mad, Sad & Bad (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/07/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

This British drama is patchy in places, but it just about succeeds thanks to a handful of decent gags and strong performances from its ensemble cast.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by psychiatrist Avie Luthra, Mad, Sad & Bad begins with the voiceover of a recently deceased elderly Asian woman (Leena Dhingra as Usha) complaining about the lives of her grown-up children. The film then spools back several weeks and we meet psychiatrist Hardeep (Zubin Varla), struggling TV writer Atul (Nitin Ganatra) and depressed librarian Rashmi (Meera Syal), who still lives at home with Usha and is only happy when playing with children.

The majority of the plot concerns Atul, whose wavering relationship with sculptor Julia (Andrea Riseborough) leads him to start fancying Roxy (Ayesha Dharker), the glamorous wife of his best friend Graham (Tony Gardner). Meanwhile, arrogant Hardeep hits on Julia when she comes to him for psychiatric help and, after a series of disastrous dates, Rashmi makes a big decision regarding her future.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly rising British star Andrea Riseborough, who plays Julia with a fascinating combination of surface strength and heartbreaking vulnerability. Nitin Ganatra is equally good, effortlessly displaying the likeable everyman persona that he's honed to perfection on EastEnders and managing to keep Atul sympathetic even though he's actually a bit of a shit.

Syal is good as the downtrodden Rashmi suddenly reaching her 'I'm not going to take it anymore' moment, while Zubin Varla plumbs impressive depths of awfulness as Hardeep – one of the film's ironies is that Hardeep's a hateful, arrogant, deeply fucked up bastard and yet he's his mother's favourite. In addition, Tony Gardner nearly steals the film as oblivious undertaker Graham.

The Bad
The film is distinctly patchy in places and often leaves plot strands frustratingly unresolved (Atul never finds out about Hardeep hitting on Julia, for example), but it also has a handful of decent gags (Atul's cheese song is a definite highlight) and an amusing, unexpectedly off-the-wall climax that makes up for a lot.

Worth seeing?
Mad, Sad & Bad is a watchable, occasionally funny comedy-drama that's worth seeing for the performances.

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Content updated: 24/09/2018 16:11

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