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United Kingdom 1994
Directed by
Mike Newell
115 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Four Weddings And A Funeral

The combination of Richard Curtis’s clever script, Mike Newell’s polished direction and a well-chosen cast made this one of the most popular and consequently oft-imitated rom-coms of the modern age.

Following the structure implied by the film’s title the story concerns a group of friends, all single, in their thirties and at a stage in their lives when they are asking themselves if it’s time to settle down.  The focal point of the narrative however is the relationship between Charles (Hugh Grant) and an American (Andie MacDowell) he meets at the first wedding and with whom he falls immediately in love.

The film made a star of Grant whose turn as a diffident, stammering public school type became his stock-in-trade in many subsequent films whilst MacDowell, fresh from lending her good looks and poise to Groundhog Day  is his seemingly unattainable and far more self-possessed goal - a kind of modernized Garance to his Baptiste. Around them flutter an experienced ensemble cast including Kristen Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, James Fleet and John Hannah who go through their paces as the production steeps us in the niceties of British upper-crust society.

Despite the bantering camaraderie and amusing repartee the film become a little tiresome as the characters are essentially no more than familiar types (Rowan Atkinson’s tongue-tied priest-in-training is a very funny  exception). It is however the unrelenting sentimentality that really grinds one down. For all its genuinely appealing aspects one can’t help but be aware of the manipulativeness at work and gradually the sweetness becomes overpoweringly off-putting. That is, of course, unless you, like many people, can't get enough of weddings and sweets.




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