Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a film that’s fully aware of all the cliches associated with wedding movies and movies about falling in love and utilizes them, yet it still works. It would have been easy to sap up this movie, based on the novella about an upper class English wedding in 1932. But director/co-writer Donald Rice embraces the inherent uncomfortable humor that arises from family weddings, especially the kind when the bride is in love with someone other than the groom. Huh, I think I’ve been to one of those before.
The movie takes place on the day that Dolly Thatcham (Felicity Jones) is set to marry Owen (James Norton), and if the gathering of the Thatcham family wasn’t overdramatic enough, Dolly’s past summer fling, Joseph (Luke Treadaway) shows up and it isn’t clear what he plans to do. Meanwhile, Dolly’s mother, Heddy Thatcham (Elizabeth McGovern) won’t let anything get in the way of the day’s nuptials. Joseph, a college professor, is exactly the type of man that a young woman finds dashing (he is introduced to Dolly after a phenomenal cricket catch wearing a chest-baring white button down shirt) and exactly the type that woman’s mother would dislike. He’s simply too mercurial for a woman like Mrs. Hetty Thatcham, who sees her daughter resigned to a typical life as a better match for the far less interesting Owen. Glimpses of Dolly and Joseph’s romantic summer are shown, but since it is only 90 minutes it’s like the Cliff’s Notes version of a longer romantic epic like The English Patient or Titanic, but with a better ending.
There is no other way to say it — this movie is beautiful. Whether it is the cinematography by John Lee (who uses focus very effectively), the brilliant art direction, gorgeous costumes, or the number of extremely attractive people in the film, there’s little in the film you cannot appreciate visually. The visuals are aided by dramatic flourishes like theatrical music cues and rain and sun that happens exactly when it is supposed to in a perfect world where our emotions are reflected by the weather. Yet none of this seems out of place. The memorable characters help, including Kitty, Dolly’s younger sister who is a hopeless romantic and played wonderfully by Ellie Kendrick. The story moves along briskly, with all the usual wedding hijinx (including a particularly awful best man speech), but the fallout is completely different.
However, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a movie that requires your total focus to follow the characters’ repartee and the hints dropped about the past (there are also a number of flashbacks that you’d have to make sure you’re paying attention to know that they’re happening in the past, not the present). So if you watch Cheerful Weather for the Wedding while folding laundry, either count on it not making much sense or not getting much laundry folded. In that sense, while it is an enjoyable movie and beautifully made it is certainly not for everybody. But if you enjoy period dramas like Gosford Park (coincidentally also set in 1932), and The Remains of the Day, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding is a worthy heir.
If this film gets the right distribution it’s likely to win a whole bunch of awards. There’s little not to like here if this is your kind of movie, but if any of the above sounds boring to you it’s probably best that you skip it.
Rating: A great period drama that appeals to fans of that genre with its beauty and dialogue (8/10)