Sunday, March 30, 2014

Romantic Film Review - Four Weddings and A Funeral

It is a really clever film that has the person who speaks up for forever hold their peace at the crucial moment in a wedding be a deaf person. that is when you know you are in the presence of something very special. 

Richard Curtis, as I looked at a few days ago in the About Time review, has made lots of brilliant romance films, but arguably his very best is Four Weddings and a Funeral - which is twenty years old today. When you watch it again, it becomes clear that it is a film about gay marriage, and about the silences that keep us from being happy or on the right path in life; you know that path that your intuition is telling you is the right one to pursue. The only time we see real, passionate, long term love in Four Weddings and a Funeral, is at the funeral, when the oh-so-gorgeous John Hannah recites Dunn's Stop the Clocks - I defy you to not cry in that scene, it makes me bawl my eyes out every single time. 

But Four Weddings and a Funeral is like that. It pulses with clever little bubbles that sit very close to the surface, but never undermine the romantic film genre. To my knowledge, Four Weddings and a Funeral was one of the first rom-com's to have a male protagonist, something that Richard Curtis would repeat through out his film making, and something Hugh Grant has made a film career out of. That its central happily married couple is gay, it includes a deaf man who isn't just hot but also whose deafness is unnecessary to the plot (in other words, he's like all deaf people, he's a person not an anecdote) and it includes a woman who sleeps with a lot of men and doesn't want to get married it quite shocking. It is a subversive film even for today, and in the end it's part of what makes Four Weddings and A Funeral such an enduring success. 

Richard Curtis didn't just direct Four Weddings and a Funeral, he also wrote it. To give it some context, the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia came out just a few months later, and we all remember how we got on the bandwagon for that film, loving the way it challenged stilted thinking around the aids crises. Well Four Weddings and a Funeral was challenging ideas around gay marriage, something the world hasn't quite come to terms with even twenty years later. Too many gay men were dying in the early nineties, but it wasn't from heart attacks on the whole it was something else. When you think about how happy the world was to watch people with HIV/Aids die away, it really isn't a big surprise the world is struggling to accept their marriages just twenty years later, but it is a rather damning critique on the way hetro people keep deciding how these people should be in love. 

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