There is something about weddings that translates quite well into comedy films. Perhaps it's the excessive, kitsch nature of the occasion, or the fact that it is generally common ground for everyone - as an event of which we can all recall our own personal, unenviable memories. The latest director to tackle this cinematic stomping ground is Nigel Cole with The Wedding Video - a film that offers a spin on an already established subject matter.
We follow the pending wedding of loved-up couple Tim (Robert Webb) and Saskia (Lucy Punch) through the eyes (and camera) of best man and brother of the groom Raif (Rufus Hound), who, as a wedding gift to his beloved sibling, is documenting the wedding with a home-made film, making sure he captures all of the build up to their big day.
As an old school friend of Saskia's, Raif remains close to the couple, though what he discovers is that perhaps all is not as well as he had hoped for, as cracks begin to show. Saskia's demanding mother (Harriet Walter) and difficult grandmother (Miriam Margolyes) are adding to what is an already stressful occasion, as Raif realises he has more of a role to play in his brother’s wedding than he had previously envisaged.
What makes The Wedding Video somewhat unique is not just that it's presented from a found-footage angle - a relatively underused sub-genre in comedy - but because the ending is revealed as the film begins, since before we have even got started, Raif reveals that Tim and Saskia's wedding doesn't ever actually materialise. Such a technique transpires into an engrossing picture, as you spend the rest of the movie anticipating what's to come, wondering how it will eventually play out.
However it does ruin any hope of being surprised, although within the opening ten minutes you could have guessed what would happen at the end regardless, so it some ways it's quite refreshing to be told in advance and avoid the inevitable agitation that often occurs once you've worked out the oh so predictable conclusion.
The style of the film is interesting also, as we are supposedly viewing the actual movie that Raif made, the entire production having been shot with a hand-held camera. However such a style is often frustrating as it poses a variety of vexations: you can't help but sit there and pick holes in a format that is far too easy to pick holes in. If you can look beyond the fact that it's merely a movie, then great. But if you're like me, you sit there, stirring, wondering why personal conversations and moments are filmed by Raif in situations where you simply wouldn't say "hold that thought, I'm just going to get my camera". And where did they buy this super camera that can pick up conversations from outside a shop, ten yards away? God I must be a nightmare to sit next to in a cinema.
On a more positive note it has to be said that you do become much less aware of the hand-held aspect to this film as it moves along, in a film that, surprisingly, is not nearly as bad as I had feared. Predictable in parts, mawkish in others, The Wedding Video can be excused for such misgivings as overall Cole's picture is exactly what you would hope for and expect from such a film - it's charming, harmless, undemanding and just downright British. In a good way.
It's also rather funny, with a host of laugh out loud moments - the majority of which come from Walter, as the hilariously uptight and compulsive mother. Margolyes also stands out, as Cole - the director of Calendar Girls no less - just seems to have a way with older women.
The Wedding Video isn't the only British comedy soon being released about weddings, as Stephan Elliott's A Few Best Men is also due to hit the screens in the coming weeks - but this is certainly the only one of the two worth seeing this summer. Oh, and Webb keeps his kit on - success!