CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR A WEDDING. Starring Felicity Jones, Luke Treadaway and Elizabeth McGovern. Directed by Donald Rice. Rated PG (Mild themes and infrequent coarse language). 189 minutes.
The title sounded like that of the comedy, I Give it a Year. But, then the credits sequence, which shows the detail of the printing press and the wedding invitation, indicate that it is 1932. And, back we go, something like entering a time capsule of the period and being trapped there, an alien world of British upper class, some upstairs and downstairs, some clipped and arch dialogue – ‘I’ve missed your custard’, ‘I must go and tend to the partridges’, ‘why did you come…?’. There are some idle rich, cricket games, a benign canon who says grace before meals in Latin, a key focus which is a tortoise, and a preoccupation with the niceties of the wedding. And, you realise almost instantly that you would say of this marriage, ‘I wouldn’t give it a year, let alone a day’.
Enjoyment will depend on frustration tolerance of most of the characters and their hyper-worried concerns.
Felicity Jones is Dolly. The action of the film takes place on her wedding day with flashbacks in brighter hues to her romance of the previous summer. Felicity Jones can be a very good actress (from Page Eight to Hysteria to Chalet Girl), but she spends most of the film pouting, a petulant-bride-to-be. She is cheerful, however, in the flashbacks. Luke Treadaway seems a nice enough chap, an anthropologist who has been invited to the wedding – and we soon realise (before the flashbacks) why he came. He does deserve some sympathy for the way he has been treated. Elizabeth McGovern (who appears in Downton Abbey) is generally over-melodramatic, urging her daughter on and disliking the nice young chap. There is Dolly’s sister, Kitty, who is seems to be in the compensation for being the younger sister mode. Mackenzie Crook and Fenella Woolgar do have some scenes with acidic line-dropping (her forte, with him as the target). And there is the maid of honour who rather fancies the canon, who seems likely to comply. And so on.
Of course, many audiences are happy to re-visit this world (think of the versions of E.M. Forster novels). Potential audiences will probably turn up for day sessions because at night they want to be at home watching Downton Abbey.
This one is definitely a matter of taste and interest. Alternate results will be delight or irritation. This review may well have given clues to the reviewer’s response!
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 19th April 2013