Hugh Grant is a interesting actor, in spite of—or because
of—the fact that he is so hard to pin down. His characters
are devastatingly handsome but terribly lonely, funny and
charming but somehow also exceedingly awkward, and popular
and loved yet capable of horribly selfish acts. His characters
are masses of contradictions, but Grant makes them work.
Grant is perfectly cast in Four Weddings and a Funeral,
and it is his performance as Charles that is responsible
in large part for the movie’s success. Charles is awkwardly
charming in a very English way. No American actor could
pull off his brand of charm but somehow it seems to come
naturally to Britons. It must have something to do with
the accent. ****
Charles (he doesn’t appear to have a job, or a last
name) seems to spend most of his time at weddings with his
group of friends, all of whom apparently get invited to
the same weddings. Charles, and all his friends, is single,
and they are all worried they won’t find anyone. ****
Charles meets Carrie (Andie McDowell), an American,
at wedding one of four. He falls for her. They sleep together.
He meets her again at wedding number two. This time he meets
her fiancé too. He still falls for her. They sleep together
again. Wedding number three? Carrie’s wedding. Wedding number
four? It’s Charles’. ***
Grant’s plays Charles’ love for Carrie perfectly. He
is painfully in love but unable to express his feelings,
both because he is English and because Carrie loves Hamish
(Colin Redgrave), or does she? Charles loves Carrie, he
knows she’s the one—but try as he might, he can’t tell her
that, and he hates that fact. ****
According to writer Richard Curtiss (known for Blackadder
and Mr. Bean), the script was written after he realized
he had attended 72 weddings over ten years. That’s about
seven a year, which would probably see me through about
five or six years. Curtiss’ weddings are more eventful than
the typical wedding, and more heavier on castles than your
typical event, but he does capture the rush of emotions.
One time I walked into a wedding thirty seconds before
the bride’s father walked her down the aisle. I got pulled
down a flight of stairs by some lady who was evidently in
charge, and found the bride and the bridesmaids and her
father at the bottom. I saw all that father’s emotions in
Four Weddings and a Funeral; pride, nostalgia, anxiety,
happiness. The weddings in the movie feel like weddings.
Charles’ friends are maybe the best part of the movie.
They’re wonderful comic creations who seem to have wandered
out of a P.G Wodehouse story, or maybe an Evelyn Waugh novel.
Maybe the best one is Scarlett (Charlotte Coleman), Charles’
fiery haired flatmate. Or maybe it is Gareth (Simon Callow),
a “very fat and very rude” gay man, the life and soul of
Charle’ little clique, and also its moral center. They’re
all wonderfully quotable—Scarlett explains the different
between table tennis and sex to a child; Gareth expounds
his theory on why couples marry. ***
The movie isn’t just about four weddings; there’s also
the funeral, one of the movie funerals I’ve seen. W.H. Auden’s
“Funeral Blues” is recited, and that scene has become well-known,
but for my money an better display of pathos comes when
the mourners are carrying the coffin. An unsightly red brick
factory sits smoking in the background, in stark contrast
to the picturesque country churches and Scottish castles
the movie has showed us thus far. The factory is a potent
image indicating the pain the characters are suffering.
Charles’ wedding is a long scene, and a funny one.
(Also, unfortunately, predictable). Like most romantic comedies,
the slightly disappointing ending emphasizes the romantic
angle over the comedy, which leads to an underwhelming ending.***
Weak ending or not, director Mike Newell and writer
Richard Curtiss fashioned a really remarkable romantic comedy
in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the movie has aged well.
This movie didn’t look great to start with, so there
isn’t a whole lot to work with here. The Blu-Ray doesn’t
look bad, but there isn’t really an urgent need to have
this movie on Blu-Ray. Not that the movie looks bad—there
is a pleasing amount of fine detail, and the color and saturation
are good—but it doesn’t look as spectacular as some Blu-Ray
releases either. ****
The sound is okay, but in a dialogue heavy romantic
comedy there isn’t much opportunity for surround sound to
work its magic.