A WEDDING MOST STRANGE Film Review.
Never mind the wedding, this was a pretty strange film. A promising and fun set-up to this new British film comedy quickly digresses into the realms of the ridiculous. This is a fickle and senseless world, where characters appear to act at random and without motive, with laborious and lacklustre excuses for ‘twists’ in the script.
Recent divorcee, Danny, has just two weeks in which to get married in order to fulfil the terms of his father’s will, which is due to expire, and regain his family heritage. Our gay protagonist sets himself up on a series of online dates and quickly manages to hook endless potential suitors all of whom seem inexplicably keen to marry him, despite having only just met, and knowing nothing about Danny’s family inheritance. So keen are they in fact, that his favourite three potential grooms agree to wait at the aisle on the actual wedding day itself, with baited breath whilst the rather plain and ordinary Danny decides whether to reject them or marry them.
The whole thing stinks of some slightly screwed up TV reality show, but what could have been quite an interesting and amusing reflection upon contemporary society, which values entertainment above compassion, instead struggles to be taken seriously as a romance. The writers seem undecided as to whether this is a comedy, or a cringey, soul-searching Dawson’s Creek number. The premise so clearly holds water as a Rom-Com, but as a quasi-serious reflection on the true nature of love, it just doesn’t work. The problem lies in the fact that the protagonist is labouring to be taken seriously in what is so clearly a farcical scenario. Furthermore, despite the endless protests of friends - and even Danny himself - that he is an open, caring, and kind guy who is interested in finding true love - we have been misled from the outset into believing that he is only marrying in order to get his hands on the family heirlooms. If love was truly what Danny wanted I’m sure he would have taken the time to actually get to know a partner before settling down. Danny should have had to choose between the goal he thought he wanted (inheritance) and the goal he actually needed (love) - as is the convention. Without this climax there was no journey, no arc and no change in the character – instead the option of the inheritance was forcibly removed from Danny at the altar without his moral character being tested at all. I also couldn’t help but feel what would be the harm in simply marrying one of his numerous close mates, all of whom seem inexplicably - along with pretty much everyone else in the film - in love with Danny, who apparently can do no wrong.
Danny was drawn as a sexless, fickle, two-dimensional character and I couldn’t help but feel I didn’t really care who Danny married, just as he himself didn’t seem to. I’m just not sure who the audience is supposed to invest in here: we are not even given the opportunity to get to know the prospective husbands so that we might root for one particular relationship to work out, and even the eventual winner comes across as desperate and rather pitiful. Our knowledge of all characters remains extremely shallow throughout; the film seems instead to focus on Danny making an ‘impossible decision’ between three guys he barely knows, so that the whole thing feels rather like a very long and drawn out episode of Blind Date - I kept expecting to hear our Graham with his quick recap on the contestants’ totally superficial credentials. Danny is also seemingly asexual: unable to rise to the task of testing his suitors in the bedroom, hugely uncomfortable when Raj sweetly tries to relax Danny in his hotel room, and even failing to kiss his fiancé at the aisle when they finally get together. It is almost as though the film were trying to be a PG if it weren’t for the explicitly sexualised humour throughout, and besides I am unsure whether a film about a gay man who pimps himself out for marriage online is the best way of teaching the younger generation to treat civil partnership, and relevantly right now - gay marriage - seriously.
It is not all bad, however, and there are some cheeky moments and nice banter, which are spot on, although unfortunately these are few and far between with most jokes falling flat. I loved the utterly unconventional Indian family of potential suitor Raj, and I also thought the acting was brilliant all round, with impressively professional performances in this low-budget British film. Despite the numerous plot-holes I still do feel there is potential for the film with some re-working if the characters were given clearer incentives and if the writer/director, Trevor Garlick, had a better idea of the genre of film he wanted to make.