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"There's a sort of greatness to your lateness"
on 21 January 2003
Four Weddings and a Funeral is an extremely funny film. If the opening sequence doesn't make you laugh, nothing will. And conversely, if Matthew's moving rendition of W. H. Auden's "Stop all the clocks. . ." poem doesn't leave you close to tears, then you must be truly hard-hearted. Unfortunately though, what could have been an excellent comedy has a major flaw.
Charles (Hugh Grant) is a likeable chap whose friends are all getting married, leaving him as a sort of perpetual Best Man. Then American Carrie (Andie MacDowell) enters the picture and causes Charles to reassess his thoughts on marriage. Grant has charisma in spades, but sadly MacDowell does not. In fact, she is perhaps one of the least charismatic actresses ever. Not only that, but the limit of her acting ability seems to be a toothpaste-advertisement-style smile. Fortunately the casting of Charles's motley collection of single friends is excellent, and one can't help thinking he would be better off marrying one of them.
The film is almost fly-on-the-wall in its style, which gives it realism and allows it to explore the relationships within the group of friends on an intimate and everyday level. Hence the subtle humour works better than, for example, Rowan Atkinson's very obvious laugh-line attempts as a preacher with a penchant for Spoonerisms.
As one character notes, weddings have a habit of blending together in the memory and the director has played on this, creating four weddings that are visually similar and yet distinct. And of one of them is particularly memorable for the fact that it doesn't actually include a marriage ceremony. At its conclusion the film shows that whilst marriage is a noble institution, it is not for everybody.