Four Weddings and a Funeral (Blu-ray)
Have you ever been to a wedding and met someone, and thought “Man, we would be best friends if we lived closer?” Or maybe you met someone and flirted and thought that you could have had a relationship with him or her, if you just had more time to get to know them… This is a movie that takes those moments and strings them together to show you what could have been. The premise is strong, portraying literally the entirety of a relationship as it grows over 18 months… because our two main characters only get to see each other at weddings.
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL follows Charles, played with charm by a young Hugh Grant (LOVE ACTUALLY), over an eighteen month period as he attends a number of friends weddings in Britain. The film is actually told in 4 weddings, these are the only times that we get to see the characters and learn about them. Each section of the film begins the morning of the wedding and ends that night (or the following morning). This set up sounds like it could be contrived but it plays out beautifully.
Charles has great friends but hasn’t ever really committed to a relationship. In fact, it’s the relationship between Charles and his friends (a brilliant ensemble cast) that make this movie work for me. People are not so much stereotypes as they are people who behave the way you would WISH for people to behave. The film plays as a series of accidents (some happy-others not), each building on each other, much like real life.
We begin with “Wedding One” where Charles is the Best Man. We are introduced to the central core of the cast as they prepare for the day with a series of quick takes that are masterfully put together by Director Newell (HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE). During this wedding, Charles’s attention is drawn by a woman who arrives late for the wedding. Meet Carrie, a beautiful and mysterious American played by Andie MacDowell (fresh off of GROUNDHOG DAY). Their relationship is “hurry up and wait” – lots happening on these days and then nothing happening in the interim – something that Grant plays well but that MacDowell seems to labor.
Over the course of the film we see Charles grow because of his feelings for Carrie, and he truly becomes a better man. The ensemble is filled with absolutely phenomenal performances from Simon Callow and John Hannah (as Gareth and Matthew) who portray in my opinion the most beautiful homosexual couple (or possibly just couple, period) I’ve ever seen in a movie. Kristin Scott Thomas, James Fleet, Charlotte Coleman, and Rowan Atkinson fill out the cast with comic perfection.
Looking at the film today, I can actually say (with ease) that casting MacDowell as the female lead is my one big problem with it. I get that she was the biggest star in the picture at this time. It was her movie. And don’t get me wrong, this is by far the most beautiful she has ever looked, sultry even. But there is something about her that just doesn’t work for me in a role like this. The way she delivers a few of her lines doesn’t sound natural, a couple of them actually causing you to pull yourself away, reminding you that you are watching actors playing parts. Grant, on the other hand, plays everything with a natural flair showing that he really is destined to become one of the great stars of that era.
As someone who doesn’t usually go for romantic comedies (as a genre) this is a film that really touches me. If you haven’t taken the time to check it out yet, get on Amazon and order it. You won’t regret it.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The video really looks great, you’d never know that this movie actually came out 17 years ago. It makes me want to go to a British wedding!
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, French 5.1 DTS) The sound works well with a nice mix for a romantic comedy. The dialogue is very well done and mixed for maximum comedic effect.
Commentary with “the Filmmakers”: This is the same commentary from the DVD. Not nearly as interesting or funny as the filmmakers fancy themselves. Not a lot of insights here, but it does have some interesting nuggets about the movie. (I’d recommend the Wedding Planners documentary included on the disc instead. Same insights, less back-patting.)
Four Weddings and a Funeral… in the Making (07:45) A quick making of featurette. Some cut-up interviews pieced together with footage from the movie. The footage from the film is sped up for some reason (about twice as fast as normal), and over the seven minutes it becomes really distracting.
The Wedding Planners (29:48) This documentary is phenomenal – a real behind the scenes look at the film, the casting process, and how they put together this little English engine that could. This was Hugh Grant’s breakout role – and he almost didn’t get the chance. (The weird speed issue on the film shots continues here!)
Two Actors and a Director (05:41) Another short featurette about the film, with some shared footage from the other “Making of” pieces.
Deleted Scenes (09:56) A few extra scenes from the film, available here with commentary (actually introductions) from producer Duncan Jones. A couple of worthwhile shots, but as usual everything here was cut for a reason.
Promotional Spots – The spots were actually never aired, but they are fun and the actors had a good time. Comments with Producer Duncan Kenworthy (01:38), Hugh Grant Promotional Spot (00:35), Andie MacDowell Promotional Spot (01:13)
Theatrical Trailer (02:08) is included here. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I miss the way trailers were put together in the ‘90s.