By: Asjad Nazir
WHETHER it is the timely subject of the National Health Service (NHS) being pushed to breaking point by an unforgiving government or an interesting cast that sees a young British Asian actor has a prominent role, among acting legends, there are a lot of interesting aspects associated with Allelujah.
This week’s big cinema release, based on a theatre play by acclaimed writer Alan Bennett is the simple story of a geriatric ward in a small Yorkshire hospital threatened with closure. Elderly patients seemingly abandoned by their respective families, devoted staff and local community want it to remain open. The two most hardworking staff members are a long-serving nurse waiting to receive a distinguished honour and an Indian doctor, who gives patients the kind of love family members don’t. There is also someone with government connections visiting his elderly father and a film crew trying to capture the best aspects of the beloved ward. It all leads towards a surprising revelation.
The simple, but effective movie combines important messages, including the plight of elderly people and strains put on the NHS, with relatable human emotions. The multi-layered movie also has comedy, drama, and heart-warming moments, including a wonderful scene where a nurse dances with a wheelchair bound patient. The surprise ending and powerful final scene turn this into marvellous movie, which remains with you after the end credits are over.
Apart from the writing, and measured direction, the heartbeat of Allelujah is the beautiful performances. Comedy legend Jennifer Saunders delivers one of the best performances of her distinguished career and the greats playing all the elderly patients add a real warmth. But perhaps the biggest revelation is newcomer Bally Gill in the challenging role of a hardworking young Indian doctor, which is filled with humanity.
This is a movie that will make you appreciate life, the elderly and especially a taken for granted NHS.
Starring: Jennifer Saunders, Bally Gill, Judi Dench, Russell Tovey, David Bradley, Derek Jacobi
Director: Richard Eyre