Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Strictly recommended for the besotted Anglophile set who revel in watching endless versions of the privileged set enjoying their privileges.

Dec 6, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368498-Cheerful_Weather_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Based on a 1932 novel by Julia Strachey, the niece of Lytton Strachey and therefore a member of the fabled Bloomsbury Group, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a very “Masterpiece Theatre” sort of affair which will appeal to the kind of “Downton Abbey” fans who just can’t seem to get enough of country estates peopled by the rich, indolent and gossipy and, of course, a retinue of nosy servants.

Dolly (Felicity Jones) is about to be married to Owen (James Norton), but is largely AWOL during her nuptial preparations, hiding out in her bedroom with a handy liquor bottle. Various guests and family members arrive, including Joseph (Luke Treadaway), with whom she had a fling the summer before. He’s desperate to see her to rekindle their flame, but there are so many people in the way, including Dolly’s pesky sister Kitty (Ellie Kendrick, trying like the dickens to steal the show), her imperious, graciously impervious mother (Elizabeth McGovern), and Millman (Sophie Stanton), the omniscient housekeeper.

We’ve seen it all before and far more interestingly done, as in Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things and, of course, Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. (This reviewer confesses to not being able to sit through the overly self-conscious “Downton Abbey”; there are just too many menials continually gasping, “Milady!”) The problem here is that these bright young things aren’t particularly bright, or sufficiently individualized. The girls are primarily brunette, perky little things full of sass and less than dazzling bon mots—although Jones tries to convey some bitter depth—while the men are nattily groomed, interchangeable mannequins. And then there’s a plethora of crusty codgers and old, refined biddies making their own winsome mischief on the side. There’s also a perfect little brat of a boy who continually sets off unsettling bombs and is definitely in need of a time out—or far worse.

Perhaps the charm of the novel, which no less than (a probably prejudiced) Virginia Woolf praised, was too elusive to capture on film. Treadaway works hard to telegraph desperate, thwarted passion, but doesn’t seem able to pierce through the genteel, seen-it-all-before miasma that enfolds this film. He and Jones fatally lack romantic chemistry, and the symbol of their thwarted love is, of all things, a tortoise. McGovern, as is sometimes the case with American actors playing Brits, is so overly Brit it hurts; she makes the Lady, Greer Garson herself, seem like Rosie Perez by comparison. Wonderful Fenella Woolgar, so good in Bright Young Things, barely makes an impression here.

Technical aspects are adequate, but there are jarring anachronisms at times with the costumes and hair. Stanton, in particular, looks very 2012.


Film Review: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

Strictly recommended for the besotted Anglophile set who revel in watching endless versions of the privileged set enjoying their privileges.

Dec 6, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368498-Cheerful_Weather_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Based on a 1932 novel by Julia Strachey, the niece of Lytton Strachey and therefore a member of the fabled Bloomsbury Group, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a very “Masterpiece Theatre” sort of affair which will appeal to the kind of “Downton Abbey” fans who just can’t seem to get enough of country estates peopled by the rich, indolent and gossipy and, of course, a retinue of nosy servants.

Dolly (Felicity Jones) is about to be married to Owen (James Norton), but is largely AWOL during her nuptial preparations, hiding out in her bedroom with a handy liquor bottle. Various guests and family members arrive, including Joseph (Luke Treadaway), with whom she had a fling the summer before. He’s desperate to see her to rekindle their flame, but there are so many people in the way, including Dolly’s pesky sister Kitty (Ellie Kendrick, trying like the dickens to steal the show), her imperious, graciously impervious mother (Elizabeth McGovern), and Millman (Sophie Stanton), the omniscient housekeeper.

We’ve seen it all before and far more interestingly done, as in Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things and, of course, Robert Altman’s Gosford Park. (This reviewer confesses to not being able to sit through the overly self-conscious “Downton Abbey”; there are just too many menials continually gasping, “Milady!”) The problem here is that these bright young things aren’t particularly bright, or sufficiently individualized. The girls are primarily brunette, perky little things full of sass and less than dazzling bon mots—although Jones tries to convey some bitter depth—while the men are nattily groomed, interchangeable mannequins. And then there’s a plethora of crusty codgers and old, refined biddies making their own winsome mischief on the side. There’s also a perfect little brat of a boy who continually sets off unsettling bombs and is definitely in need of a time out—or far worse.

Perhaps the charm of the novel, which no less than (a probably prejudiced) Virginia Woolf praised, was too elusive to capture on film. Treadaway works hard to telegraph desperate, thwarted passion, but doesn’t seem able to pierce through the genteel, seen-it-all-before miasma that enfolds this film. He and Jones fatally lack romantic chemistry, and the symbol of their thwarted love is, of all things, a tortoise. McGovern, as is sometimes the case with American actors playing Brits, is so overly Brit it hurts; she makes the Lady, Greer Garson herself, seem like Rosie Perez by comparison. Wonderful Fenella Woolgar, so good in Bright Young Things, barely makes an impression here.

Technical aspects are adequate, but there are jarring anachronisms at times with the costumes and hair. Stanton, in particular, looks very 2012.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

The Divine Move
Film Review: The Divine Move

Excessive violence and off-the-wall plotting undermine an intriguing game-based premise. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here