Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Four Weddings and a Funeral


Actually, three weddings, a funeral, and then a wedding that doesn’t happen … but who’s counting? This was one of the first of a very successful string of British comedies that did very well in the US, too. For a while it was the highest-grossing British film of all time. (Now it’s either Mamma Mia! or Notting Hill, depending on how you define a British film.) It made Hugh Grant a star. It’s a charming little romantic comedy, written by Richard Curtis, the frequent collaborator with Rowan Atkinson on “Bean” and the “Blackadder” series. (He also wrote the script for the first episode of the upcoming “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series on HBO, which makes me look forward to it even more.) The story centers around Charles and his circle of friends, who seem to spend a lot of their time going to weddings. This is simply because we see nothing of the rest of their lives. No hint is given of how Charles makes his living, except that, judging from the look of his flat, he’s not rich. This is okay; the movie can narrow its focus that way, and it was probably the only way to do a good job of portraying so many interesting characters. Charles has the flaw of not being able to make up his mind, or to commit, even though he meets the woman who he obviously want to marry at the first wedding. Obvious to us, of course, but not to Charles, who dithers until he loses her … and then regains her at the worst possible moment. SPOILER WARNING! This means he does a very, very awful thing to the woman who expects to marry him. He deserts her at the altar. And though we’ve been given no reason to like this woman, I felt a lot of sympathy when she hauls off and belts him. It was an entirely reasonable response. The only thing to say in his defense is that, once you’re actually at the altar and finally realize that this is all wrong, that you love somebody else … leaving her at the altar is the second-worst thing you can do to her, of only two choices. The worst thing, of course, would be to marry her.

This film was noteworthy in that it is one of the earliest examples I can think of where a homosexual couple is present, and no big deal is made of it. They are not effeminate, and it’s only after a little while you realize they are gay. They are not there for easy laughs. And in fact, they probably have a better loving relationship than most of their straight friends. The story’s most serious moments involve these two men.