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CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING

SYNOPSIS:
It's 1932 and Dolly (Felicity Jones) frets upstairs in her family's country manor on her wedding day, fearful that in Owen (James Norton) she's about to marry the wrong man - instead of her previous boyfriend, Joseph (Luke Treadaway). Downstairs, both her fiancé and her former lover grow increasingly anxious.

Review by Louise Keller:
Happiness, a turtle called Grunhilda, a bride with rum on her breath and an indecisive anthropologist are some of the ingredients of this 30s upstairs downstairs English comedy where it is a blind woman from the kitchen who sees things more clearly than most. Based on the 1932 novel by Julia Strachey, the action takes place on the day of a wedding, a day that should be paramount in the happiness stakes, yet uncertainty and an inability to call things as they really are, contributes to the wide variety of emotions that transpire.

This is the debut feature for director Donald Rice, who manages the subject matter adequately, although it is only in the flashback sequences from the previous summer, when Dolly (Felicity Price) and Joseph (Luke Treadaway), who is not the groom, find happiness together, that spontaneity and joie de vivre results. Much of the remainder of the proceedings is stilted, although to be fair to the narrative, much of this is probably intended.

As the film commences, elaborate wedding invitations on embossed paper are being printed on a printing press. The opening scenes are rather confusing, as we try to get a handle on all the characters that are mulling about the family manor prior to the 2pm wedding between Dolly and Owen (James Norton). Dolly's controlling mother, Hetty (Elizabeth McGovern) is flapping about trying to orchestrate a harmonious family symphony, whereas in reality, the tone is discordant.

The characters include Dolly's ugly duckling sister Kitty (Ellie Kendrick), her lemon-mouthed bridesmaid Evelyn (Zoe Tapper) a flirtatious uncle and 8 year old cousin Jimmy (Ben Greaves-Neil) who delights in exploding confetti bombs that Joseph has brought to amuse the youngster. Dolly is hiding in her bedroom, alternating between her wretching into the toilet and swigging from the bottle of rum on her window ledge. Why has she invited her former lover Joseph, is the question on everyone's lips.

The most engaging sequences are those in flashback, when Dolly and Joseph meet at a cricket game, ride bikes together, enjoy picnics, croquet and boating and Joseph gifts Dolly with a Tortoise from Cairo, from an anthropologist field expedition. There's nice chemistry between them and their happiness radiates. Fortunately, Dolly is given a different hairstyle for the flashbacks, which makes it easy to identify what part of the story is which. The chemistry between Dolly and her groom is zilch and we have no investment in their relationship or why they are tying the knot. As we are told several times, a wedding takes place as a result of circumstances, and it is those circumstances that are the focus of the film.

The performances are fine, and Jones, Treadaway and McGovern hold their own as required. I especially enjoyed Barbara Flynn as the outspoken Aunt Bella, who exclaims with glee that her chauffeur is almost as handsome as her car. The relationship with the servants is also nicely represented and the scenery is lovely. The film is pleasant enough but lightweight; when there should be pathos, there is little more than a whimper.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There you are, on your wedding day and you've invited the previous boyfriend along to the pre-ceremony breakfast, for reasons not quite clear. The groom is new to the family and the environment, and it being England in 1932, social mores are pressing. None of this seems at all relevant today, except for the fact that the screenplay explores the dilemmas of characters who are universally recognisable across time. Never mind the period costumes, the stiff rules of behaviour or the restricting clothes; human nature has changed little over the decades since.

The stuffiness is broken by occasional moments of humour and the loud explosions of a little boy's prank firecrackers. A few smart exchanges of dialogue and embarrassing dinner scenes notwithstanding, Cheerful Weather tends to constrain itself and us with its tumult of characters we hardly care about. Not even the central characters get enough exposure to let us make a connection, so whether poor old Joseph (Luke Treadaway) moons about having let Dolly (Felicity Jones) break his heart is not much here nor there.

Odd sunshine moments - driven by typically tangible performances from a handful of English character actors - are quickly overtaken by dross and triteness. Dancing an Irish jig, wedding scenes, and glowing flashbacks contrasting with the cold of the blueish present are all telltatle signs of lazy or unimaginative filmmaking.

It's not all bad but the cinematic pleasures available here are slight and intermittent.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING (PG)
(UK, 2012)

CAST: Felicity Jones, Luke Treadaway, Elizabeth McGovern, Ellie Kendrick, Zoë Tapper, Eva Traynor, Paola Dionisotti, Sophie Stanton

PRODUCER: Teun Hilte

DIRECTOR: Donald Rice

SCRIPT: Donald Rice, Mary Henely-Magill (novel by Julia Strachey)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lee

EDITOR: Stephen haren

MUSIC: Michael Price

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Lavelle

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 18, 2013







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