Four Weddings and a Funeral has set the precedent for the romantic comedy of wedding bell errors. Unfortunately, all other wedding-themed films are often judged critically by comparison.
As much as Made In Dagenham director Nigel Cole’s The Wedding Video is different in its ‘caught on camera’, fly-on-the-wall approach, the end result should be a same with the ‘rom’ and the ‘com’ in equal abundance. The comedy is there – and side-splittingly funny in a unique British sense at times, but the romance is a little lacking, like a dafter episode of Peep Show for the immature keeping nuptials at bay.
Raif (Rufus Hound) is back from travelling to attend his older brother Tim’s (Robert Webb) wedding, but not before he carries out his Best Man duties. Armed with a camera, eternal prankster Raif decides to make a ‘warts-and-all’ wedding video for the happy couple, soon discovering that the bride-to-be is none other than school rebel Saskia (Lucy Punch) who he used to have the hots for and admire. As one wedding stress is followed by another wedding disaster, the big day is looking to be anyone’s guess.
Thanks to the Best Man narration at the start, the course of the film is set and fairly obvious, so as long as you are happy to witness how the journey gets from A to B, The Wedding Video can be enjoyed as such as it snowballs out of control with the best of British eccentricity, picking up casualties along the way. Its saving grace is its ‘camera-never-lies’ honesty, delivered with dopey, big-hearted sentiment that is partly due to its impressive improv nature from a great cast.
Hound may get a little over-excitable at times as Raif, falling into his lone stand-up groove, but for a feature-film debut, he delivers on the whole, part in thanks to him rifting off the naturally funny and boisterous Punch and Webb’s standard blasé, deadpan stance. Punch steals a lot of the scenes from both, including the funniest of the lot that involves rehearsing for the first dance and her fooling around on camera at a stately home. Without her, the film would be seriously wanting.
In fact, Calendar Girls Cole celebrates women of all ages once more, placing the females in the driving seat, with Harriet Walter as the controlling mother-of-the-bride using the happy event as a hideous nouveau riche display of wealth in front of Chester’s elite, and Miriam Margolyes as her ever-critical mother, Patricia – the former giving a hilarious rare performance in a comedy role and the latter being as eccentric as we love to see her play.
Piled on top of the ridiculous comes wedding planner Jenna, brilliantly enacted by Green Wing’s kooky Michelle Gomez. Each female gets their chance to shine alongside the bride, all aware of the camera/our eye on them and their every move that naturally accentuates the comedy value. Coupled with which, Cole and writer Tim Firth have captured how crazy the ‘W’ word makes some people – a cringe-inducing reminder to those who are hitched of the wedding ‘fayre’ fiasco.
It may not have a unique freshness to it, and loses the balance of blossoming romance through trying to be off-the-wall crazy all the time or too contemplative at others, but The Wedding Video still has lots of very funny moments and a realistic interpretation of the lengths some people go to when confronted by a camera lens and under increasing (often self-inflicted) pressure to perform.
By Lisa Giles-Keddie