MRR Movie Review: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

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A 2012 dramedy film directed by Donald Rice and adapted from the 1932 novel of the same name by Julia Strachey of the Bloomsbury Group. A young woman frets upstairs in her family's country manor on her wedding day, fearful she's about to marry the wrong man. Downstairs, both her fiancé and her former lover grow increasingly anxious. Starring Felicity Jones, Elizabeth McGovern & Luke Treadaway.
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Movie Review: "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding"

--Rating: Unrated
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: Dec. 7, 2012
Directed by: Donald Rice
Genre: Comedy and Drama

The "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" comedy/drama movie was adapted from the 1932 novel by the same name. Julia Strachey wrote the drama, but Donald Rice and Mary Henely-Magill wrote the film's screenplay. Donald Rice served as director and the cast included Elizabeth McGovern, Felicity Jones and Luke Treadaway.

The movie is set in a quaint English countryside in 1932. Dolly Thatcham (portrayed by Felicity Jones) is set to wed Owen Bigham (portrayed by James Norton), but the bride-to-be's mother is not keen on the idea. To make matters worse, Thatcham's ex-lover Joseph Patten (portrayed by Luke Treadaway) arrives in the village.

On the morning of the wedding, the bride tries to calm her nerves by drinking rum straight from the bottle. Of course, this makes her retch. As guests start to arrive for the ceremony, Mrs. Hetty Thatcham (portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern) gives Patten a cool reception. This reception effectively depicts Mrs. Hetty's apprehension. As a well-meaning bride's mother, she doesn't entertain anything that can ruin her daughter's day.

Patten tries to see Thatcham alone as the ceremony nears, but she doesn't let him. In fact, the disgruntled ex-lover spends a good part of the movie either staring listlessly out of windows or sulking in the bathroom. The former lovers share these memories; Thatcham is also shown staring out of windows and reminiscing about their summer holiday memories. The movie employs the use of numerous flashbacks to give viewers an insight into these flashbacks.

Many people are comparing "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" with "Downton Abbey," saying that the former is an offshoot of the latter. Though they have clear similarities, they retain important differences. For one, there is a marked absence of aristocracy in the behaviors of the bride in "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding," while "Downton Abbey" reeks of aristocracy throughout. One of the similarities in the plots of the two productions comes out when Aunt Bella (portrayed by Barbara Flynn) arrives late at the wedding, but manages to annoy everyone by her disapproving manner. Her behavior is very much like that of Maggie Smith of "Downton Abbey."

On the surface, the characters in "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" have glossy and cheerful appearances that can easily be mistaken for the typical Anglophile nostalgia. This façade is only for appearance's sake, however; not everything is at it seems. Keen viewers will see through the veneer to realize that the movie is a cynical portrayal of bored Britons who appear to be celebrating a wedding. In reality, they are only going through motions that conflict with their heart's true feelings.

It doesn't lack drama, though. For example, there is drama when Patten arrives. Patton, a young and handsome professor of anthropology, arrives for the wedding without informing the bride's mother. All throughout the movie, there are different ominous signs of impending doom. The bride is extremely nervous and guzzles a huge quantity of rum, the weather is unsettled and the groom even mislays the ring. It is also revealed that the bride and groom have only been engaged for a month.

Rice is an able director, and he exhibits a spectacular display of camera maneuverability within the film. The camera shots move expertly between the different revelers. These revelers are supposed to be celebrating , but they are too weighed down by their own personal problems. Thatcham's younger sister, Kitty Thatcham (portrayed by Ellie Kendrick) is disappointed by her bad luck with men. A long-married couple revel in their mutual distrust for each other, and they are content to take lazy snipes at each of them.

The manner in which Rice directs "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" is reminiscent of Joe Wright's "Pride & Prejudice," particularly by its lack of period boredom. The only problem is that Rice lacks a rich character such as Jane Austen, but the loss is not greatly felt due to the skilled director.

The cast members do not disappoint either. Jones, an English actress, is best known for her role as Ethel Hallow in the television productions "The Worst Witch" and "Weirdsister College." McGovern is an American theater, television, film actor, and musician. Examples of films she has appeared in include "Ordinary People," "Ragtime," and "Once Upon a Time in America." Treadaway is a young English film, stage and television actor with appearances in "Brothers of the Head," "Heartless," "The Whistleblower" and others. These talented people contributed to the success of the film "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding."

Rating: 3 out of 5