Spoiler Scope: This review contains major spoilers! I suggest watching the movie before you read it. I give the movie a 9/10 so it’s worth watching anyway.
This is movie is thoroughly original. Not a single rom-com cliché to be found here.
The movie has an excellent and original plot. It takes place over, as the title suggests, four weddings a funeral. It concerns a man who meets a beautiful woman at a wedding, but she’s eternally unavailable. At the first wedding, they meet, sleep together, and the next day she’s leaving back to the United States. The second wedding she’s engaged to an older (and rich) man, they still sleep together. The third wedding is her own, she’s marrying the older, rich man. At the end of the movie, our protagonist has decided that he shouldn’t spend his entire life looking for his one true love, and agrees to marry an old, slightly crazy flame who is intermittedly present throughout the movie. The fourth wedding is this one. The beautiful woman turns up at this wedding, tells him that she and her husband have separated. He then has a crisis about whether he wants to go through with the wedding, and ends up call it off during the ceremony. The movie ends with the two agreeing to get together.
This movie captured well some of the awkward dynamics of romance, dating and relationships. For example to shyness that men might face approaching a girl, wanting to chat to a girl but being accosted by a drunk man who wants to chat.
The movie also shamelessly breaks traditional some traditional concepts of romance and sex, and shamelessly endorses the idea that people (including women!) can want to just have sex.
When I was watching the movie I found myself commenting ‘this movie is awful!’. Not an awfully constructed movie, but some of decisions and dynamics portrayed are personally challenging.
For example at the second wedding, the object of romantic attraction (Andie MacDowell) and the protagonist end up sleeping together, despite her being engaged.
This does have one thinking ‘does this make them bad people?’. Especially her – apparently deciding that her fiancé is worth marrying, but still wanting to sleep with the protagonist.
On this point, the movie never really conveys why she wants to marry the older rich man. His screen time only serves to show him being rude to the protagonist.
This further suits to portray her as awful – apparently the only reason she’d be marrying him is for his money and power.
I think the movie could have done well to explain just why she was with him. Either they had good chemistry together, in which case the movie could have shown this, or she was only really in it for the money in which case the movie could have shown more clearly what the dynamic was about.
I guess though, the movie is from the protagonists point of view, and from his point of view he doesn’t know whether they genuinely have good chemistry, or she’s just being silly.
The second ‘this is awful’ moment, is at the fourth wedding, the protagonist has agreed to marry his old flame. This from the start seems like a bad idea. From the very start of the wedding day, he doesn’t seem especially enthused about getting married. Then having learned that the object of his affection has left her husband he’s really regretting it, now being in the position of losing the opportunity to marry the girl he really likes.
The movie has you thinking ‘What a terrible person, he’s made this terrible choice to marry something he’s not really into which has put him into this predictable situation’ .
Now of course, that’s probably the point of the movie, it’s about love between flawed individuals who don’t always make the correct decision.
So on one hand this movie is good in that it approaches love in a pragmatic and realistic manner. Often the objects of our affection will be unavailable either due to space or because they’re with someone else.
There are also practical considerations for a relationship – does one settle for someone who ‘seems good enough’ because they want to move on with their life? I suspect that a lot of people who have actively dated have been faced with this kind of decision.
However that set, I found the moral ambiguity of the movie unsettling. Does this mean that if you’re unhappy in your existing relationship you should just cheat? Should you get into relationships with someone that you’re not that interested in to tide you over until you’re able to get real object of your affection?
I do wonder what affect this movie had on movie goers of the time. How many men and women, after seeing the movie, having been in a relationship they weren’t entirely happy with, decided to have an affair?
And if this did happen, is it actually a bad thing? Studies suggest that monogamy is not a natural state of affairs, perhaps it’s unrealistic to believe that we can remain happily monogamous.
Overall, I think the movie is an excellent movie for raising these kinds of questions, and I’m curious what other people’s thoughts were.