Monday, November 24, 2008

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

An Outrageously Funny Affair

This utterly charming, little British film took me completely by surprise the first time I saw it. I did not know what to expect going in, but I quickly found myself falling completely in love with it.

The plot is structured around the five events mentioned in the title. A magnificent group of seven dear friends attends a string of weddings, none of them, unfortunately, involving any of the principles. Our focus is on Charles (Hugh Grant), a devilishly handsome man who is completely incapable of committing to marriage. He is, as an ex-girlfriend describes him, a "serial monogamist."

There is some hope, however, that that might change when Charles meets Carrie (Andie MacDowell), a beautiful American woman. He falls in love with her, and we suspect she might love him, too, but instead she gets engaged to Hamish (Corin Redgrave), a boring, but rich man, twice her age. Our hearts break along with Charles' because we know that she is making a mistake. He is too disappointed, though, and too afraid to do anything about it.

There is something so pleasing about friendship in a movie. When it is done right, as it is here, it involves the audience in a way that most stories cannot. While watching this film, I could not help but wish that I knew them all better. Who wouldn't want a group of such trusted and wonderful friends? Because we like them, and because we feel we know them so well, the events in the film aren't just happening to somebody else. They are happening to us as well. That is why "Four Weddings" is so touching and so moving.

The acting is nothing short of brilliant, especially the work done by Hugh Grant. Not since Cary Grant has an actor displayed such suave, British charm and natural good looks. He is a delight to watch and, no doubt, has an excellent future ahead for himself. Andie MacDowell is equally enchanting. She has never appeared as lovely in a movie before as she does here.

The screenplay by Richard Curtis is extremely well written. The scenes have the ring of truth to them; the characters feel as real as anyone we know. The writing always hits just the right note, striking a delicate balance between moments of great humor and romance, as well as deep sadness.

Mike Newell's direction is fine, never distracting us the center of the film: the characters and their words. At the same time, there are moments of inspired visual artistry. The sight of Charles arriving late for Carrie's wedding, standing alone in a broad, Scottish moor, is touchingly sad. Even better is the funeral chapel, stranded in a bleak, industrial wasteland, overlooking the dull, gray Thames. It is a very evocative and poignant moment.

I do not want to give the impression that this is a sad film because it is not. At times it is rather hilarious, the romance is always enticing, and it does have a happy, if unexpected, ending. More importantly, all of its emotions are genuinely earned. "Four Weddings and a Funeral" is one of the most delightful films I have seen in a long time. By David Montgomery "Book Reviewer"


Four Weddings and a Funeral Trailer

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