Director: Donald Rice
Many films focus on the proposal, the engagement, the planning or the actual wedding, but few take a look at the anxious hours in anticipation of the holy matrimony. In the UK production Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, this anxiety is weighty, as an unrequited romance is lamented between the bride Dolly (Felicity Jones) and fleeting companion Joseph (Luke Treadaway). Making his feature debut, director Donald Rice has created a pleasant portrait of attachment and its effects, with a main relationship that is a breeze to become invested in.
“A short engagement makes for a long marriage,” remarks Dolly’s mother (Elizabeth McGovern), one of the many family members scurrying about this mansion. Despite a passionate previous summer with Joseph, told in smartly structured warm-colored flashbacks, Dolly is set to marry another man whom she only recently committed to on this March day, captured with a cold palette. With both of our leads breaking out in indie films last year, Jones is not far apart from her fragile Like Crazy character as Treadaway transforms from a pot-addicted dimwit in Attack the Block to a stoic, amorous young adult here.
The pre-ceremony events are kept to a blistering pace, as dinner conversations feature multiple strands of dialogue among uptight aunts, near-deaf grandparents, distraught married couples and more. While Rice keeps a firm handle on telling the lovers’ story with well-timed cuts to flashbacks, the supporting family cast also provide welcome moments of brevity. Mackenzie Crook, still as nervous as his character in UK’s The Office, is in constant struggle with his wife, who talks down to the idea of marriage, throwing out examples from their emotionally-lacking union. A subplot with their child, who is devilishly exploding potassium nitrate confetti bombs around his elders, adds a fun diversion to this pleasant experience.
Joseph doesn’t cross paths with his summer squeeze until the climax, and their past relationship is only slowly revealed, making for a somewhat dry initial act. Longing glances and a mysterious relationship between Dolly’s mother and Joseph feels insufficiently vague and dragged out. There’s also little explanation given to why Joseph isn’t the right fit and why Dolly’s choice for a spouse is so above and a beyond her other option. As we approach the cathartic moment, it’s played restrained and melodramatic, but fitting for such a traditional love story.
Gorgeous cinematography comes from John Lee, most notably in the fetching flashbacks with a dusk dance scene and a day of picnics and rowing, as well as polished score of stirring strings and piano from Michael Price. Despite some unclear motivations, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a tightly wound look at hopeless love that makes for a perfectly pleasant Sunday afternoon watch in any kind of forecast.
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