Four Weddings And A Funeral

Four Weddings And A Funeral

*****

Reviewed by: Josh Morrall

From the deep, dark depth of typical English restraint comes Four Weddings And A Funeral, a film that sums up what the world thinks about the English and what we think about them. Of course, this inconsequential message arrives complete with a level of comic genius that has not been seen in the British film industry for a great number of years. It kick started so many actors's careers - not to mention Richard Curtis's - and set the bar for all Brit rom-coms to come.

Mike Newel, director of the grossly underrated Pushing Tin, gives Curtis's witty script all the attention it deserves. There is never a dull moment in this film, no matter how many times you watch it. The audience is taken from delight to despair, while never truly losing its grin.

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Of course, the script would not have stood the test of time had it not been for the fine range of characters Curtis has created and such a talented cast of actors to embody them. There is a colourful array of engaging and amusing personalities here, something for everyone, which is why Four Weddings has retained its universal appeal.

The film has felt the burden of Charles, who has followed Hugh Grant throughout his career, the bumbling English gentleman, appearing in Notting Hill and Nine Months and many more. Fortunately, Bridget Jones's Diary has ushered in a new perspective to Grant's acting ability, allowing us once again to appreciate Charles for the insufferable Englishman he is.

Kristin Scott Thomas's performance is both sultry and subtle, forcing the audience to fall in love with her, so that Carrie (Andie MacDowell) seems the less obvious choice for Charles. Nevertheless, the relationship between Scott Thomas and Grant's characters is involving, as is the atmosphere amongst the entire group, giving the film a relaxed tone, where an amiable relationship between the protagonists - Carrie excluded - and the audience is allowed to ferment.

Simon Callow and John Hannah share a stereotype-subverting liaison that saw the film set a precedence for future productions. Perhaps the acceptance of their homosexuality at what was still an uncertain time was due to their fine performances - Callow hilarious and Hannah deeply moving in the funeral scene when he reads from W H Auden's Funeral Blues.

The list of memorable performances and wonderful characters continues with Rowan Atkinson, James Fleet and so on, underlining the skill involved in the film's writing and the Newel's certain, simple direction.

Four Weddings is, undoubtedly, a masterpiece. The film that started a trend of box offices smashes remains the best of the bouquet, deserving of its status as one of the most successful British films of all time.

A modern classic.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2005
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Comic observations of the emotionally cauterised English upper-middle-classes at play.
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Director: Mike Newell

Writer: Richard Curtis

Starring: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, Simon Callow, John Hannah, Charlotte Coleman, James Fleet, Timothy Walker, Sara Crowe

Year: 1994

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/UK

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If you like this, try:

Bridget Jones's Diary
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