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Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012)

If not based on classic literature, about the only thing you can rely on from British comedy is a quirky production full of misunderstandings and high-class drama. ‘Wedding’ fits neatly into that box.

On what should be the happiest day of Dolly Thatcham’s life, Dolly (Felicity Jones) has hidden herself away in the bedroom of her family home as memories of summer days with her former beau, Joseph (Luke Treadaway) assault her. With her mother (Elizabeth McGovern) fretting down below over the arrival of guests – including bridesmaid and friend, Evelyn (Zoe Tapper), meal settings and guest room assignments, Dolly is left to her own wallowing. Younger sister, Kitty (Ellie Kendrick) is a romantic who finds Dolly’s sulking horrible – she doesn’t know what to make of her sister’s wedding aside from the dress she bemoans having to don for the occasion, and is in fact quite ready for an adventure of her own now Dolly will be living with her husband overseas.

All turns topsy-turvy with the sudden arrival of both Dolly’s fiancé and Joseph stir up uncertainty and keeps Dolly holed up in her room rebuffing Joseph’s request to talk, and instead chaos reigns as the family barely makes it through a family meal, temperamental family members and a bride who just won’t talk to anyone!  

In a nutshell that plot outline is basically all there is to this script. The movie is short in running time but without failing feels longer with its slow-moving pace. Despite seeing a trailer and having a cursory eagerness to watch this indie film, prior to watching it, for some reason I had the idea of this being a contemporary film instead of the 1930’s period satire it really is. The script hides behind dark emotions and chances lost, really though, what it suggests and what it is are two different things, the movie is a comedic piece of chaos. From the wacky family members arriving amid already silly shenanigans to the outwardly pointless meaning in the movie, the laughs are plenty – and in fact while watching it, my mother and I made the comment that this was setting up to be the British version of the Jimmy Stewart classic, You Can’t Take it With You. Many of the comedy plays are straight from its playbook – from a form of exploding firecrackers to a wacky family meal you will be hard pressed to find a family more alike.

Shifting gears and to be blunt, I didn’t like this movie terribly well. Usually, I am not so pessimistic about films or books, but honestly, ‘Wedding’ just didn’t click with me. Sure, it was interesting in its own unique way and may even be a movie I’ll give a second chance, but even when the story is convincingly good, it doesn’t contradict the end – I know it left me empty. There was nothing that inspired me or made me feel like anyone was happy - and I am not speaking of a traditional ending, and even if the ambiguous ending is trying to imply a possibility other than what we are shown, it would still lead to misery rather than contentment. No matter how well writers conceal Dolly’s personality in a state of nervousness, and apprehension, not to mention drunkenness, Dolly is an unlikable character and seriously much as you wish to champion Joseph as the better man, he’s kind of a spineless wimp.

The only thing that “drives” this plot forward is really Elizabeth McGovern’s regal, brilliantly fun acting. Her character pretends to turn a blind all to all around her, yet she knows more than the viewer or her family realize. Then there are also the flashbacks to the summer Dolly and Joseph spent together which does liven things up a bit since too many scenes involve Dolly forlornly sitting in her room, chugging rum from the bottle; these scenes are well filmed, a bright contrast to the cool, “staid” tones and presence of the present. What these do is present the viewer with an alternative – or a happier time, full of picnics and stolen kisses. Part of the reason the film is so tepid is that it’s British. Their cinema is different than our touchy-feely American scripts, to be sure. That being said, I just cannot quite make myself like this almost-charming movie. It had potential, but clearly, it didn’t reach for the stars. Leaving off, I can sincerely say, I like the movie for its cast and costumes, beyond that… well, there is always the weather, which was perfectly cheer- no, wait! Even that was miserable. 

Those of us who can appreciate a darker, more whimsical sense of humor may find this amusing. Because I don’t like believing that there was so little point to the story, I do concede that likely, I missed something in my translation, but darned if I know what it was! 

(Parental concerns: There is one brief scene that shows some clothing removal, though the scene cuts away before anything “graphic” takes place – there is plenty of passionate kissing and it’s suggested that one character has very loose morals and is in fact pregnant with a child she doesn’t know who the father is. Elsewhere there is shameless flirting and perhaps one or two British profanities; social drinking is present. The film is rated PG.)
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  1. I got through about half of this movie and then quit...

    1. What was it you weren't liking about, Ruth? Just the story in general or the production? I'd be interested in getting your thoughts. :)

  2. I recently watched and reviewed this too and I enjoyed it through an artistic viewpoint. It was beautiful and the acting was great, and I appreciated the realistic characters and that it wasn't a typical romcom. Dolly was dis-likable, but Joseph was really the central character. His side of the story resonated with me the most, and his end was actually pretty satisfying and hopeful. Well, that was my take anyway! :)

    1. If you watch it only through an artistic lens, it wasn't a "bad" movie, Sarah, I do agree with you. Loved the cast and costumes, naturally (I am a sucker for a pretty costume drama), but as a character piece, I wasn't fond of this at all.

      Spoiler: I am not sure what the take away was meant to be - do you think the end was saying Joseph was going to finally "let go" and move on? I wasn't sure if that were it or if he was going to follow Dolly, turtle in tow! ;-) END If it was meant to be the former suggestion, I am all for that - and more power to him!

      Glad you shared your conclusions, Sarah. I enjoyed reading your comment; I'll for sure be stopping by later to read your review! (Sorry to have missed that!)

    2. *Spoilers*
      I suppose it could be took either way, but I took the former meaning. (The other didn't even enter my head until I read you review!) I think it makes the most sense that way -- if Joseph was too honorable to break up the wedding, why would he change his mind and try to break them up after? I think what he really wanted was simply resolution and peace, and receiving the turtle gave it to him. It makes for a better story that way too... if I'd taken the latter meaning, I wouldn't have liked this movie much at all!

    3. Spoiler Discussion Ahead:

      You're right, I think it could be taken/implied either way.

      That being said, I sure hope that the script wanted us to conclude that by being given back the turtle, Joseph was being "set free." That would make the film better. It was just the way it was filmed (with Mrs. Thatcham on the phone, discussing the wedding details, grinning and Joseph walking away with a half-smile) that made me question it. END

      I am definitely rooting for your version. :)

  3. I heard about this one a couple of months ago and added it to my Netflix queue. I'll get around to watching it eventually, but most reviews I've read seem to echo what you said...that the film seems to miss the mark somehow.


    1. Somehow I just felt it was more "empty" than meaningful, Kristin. That being said, it may be the kind of movie that just didn't resonate with me where it will others. The costumes were pretty and of course, the cast was epically good!

      Hope you enjoy the movie - let me know if you see it what you think. :)

  4. Oh sounds like a pass. I do love the costumes though.

    1. The costumes - as usual, are stunners, Juju. And of course, it was grand to see familiar faces in the cast! I think in the end, 'Wedding' is more artistic than a good emotional character piece and if viewed through that perspective, the movie is... interesting. :)

  5. Hmm.....interesting that you would review this just after I saw it in my Netflix recommended list. However, hearing your opinion, I just might wait on it!

    1. If you watch it "artistically," I suppose it's not a bad movie. That being said, I like more from my characters in a movie, so, yeah, this won't be a favorite. :)

      If you ever do see it, Ella, let me know what you think!

  6. I just watched this one on Netflix a few weeks ago and was sorely disappointed. The repetitive retrospectives and Dolly's melancholy grew tiring and I was just waiting for SOMETHING to happen. Joseph lacked the conviction to be championed by viewers and I can't help but thinking that Dolly got what she deserved. Wonderful review Rissi!

    1. Yes! This was my reaction also, Lydia - I often felt like shaking Dolly to her senses! Either marry the dude and DEAL or call it off and figure out what it is YOU want! *sigh* Ideally, I could have dealt with the latter. Really, I think the movie was more comedic that it initially implies and though I did get some giggles out of it... I just couldn't get "into" it.

      I agree; it probably did end as it should. Dolly got what she deserved and Joseph, well, I never could cheer him on as I'd have liked.

      Thanks for reading! :)

  7. *Spoiler warning*
    For some reason, I started watching this movie with the pre-conceived notion that I would get to like Felicity Jones's character, so I was befuddled as it took the whole movie for me to accept that she was the unlikeable character. I kept thinking that Joseph had deserted her or something... So I just ended up really confused, besides not liking the ending since it's the "happily-ever-after" sort that my taste invariably tends toward. But I did enjoy the flash-backs and costumes!

    1. Spoiler Discussion Ahead:

      Sadly, Dolly never did thaw out, did she!? I mean, I suppose in the flashbacks she was likable. The entire script was a bit befuddling. It tried to be a melodramatic period piece in some elements but really, don't you think it was more comedic in a "dark" way than anything? Or that was my impression.

      Had it ended with Dolly leaving or not marrying the dude but not going back to Joseph, I think that'd have even been a "better" alternative - if without a "happy ending." I mean... the girl *made* herself even more miserable and that in turn makes us question her sanity. In my book, that does not make a good character.

      Me, too, Lizzie! The costumes and flashbacks were pretty. They made the movie worth something, anyway. :)

  8. Ah, pity that you didn't like this one much. It has quite some potential, all the familiar faces, the time period etc. But if you get a feeling from it none of the characters are really admirable or end up happy, then I can understand it left you feeling a bit 'mwah'. The way you describe it reminds me a bit of another British, 30s era movie: Easy Virtue

    1. ...I wanted to like this, Birdie and in some ways, I suppose I didn't "hate" it since I may re-watch it at some point. There was loads of potential here (the cast was good - and I did like Elizabeth McGovern's crazy character) but the way everything plays out fell... flat. :/

      You know... this does kind of remind me of Easy Virtue only that was more outwardly humorous. :)

  9. Oh... so thrilled to read this post because all through this move I thought I must be missing something... I was sure that I was supposed to like it... but I didn't. Wonderful to read your insights, Rissi....

    1. ...and I am thrilled that it wasn't just me also, Katherine! Like you, I felt like I really wanted to like this movie and alas, nothing "clicked" for me. *sigh* Wish it had because there are good moments mixed in with the bad. At least, the cast was grand - gotta' try to find the good in a disappointing movie! :)


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