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Cheerful Weather for the Wedding

2012 | 93 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding


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Theatrical release date

 07 December, 2012

Country of origin

 United Kingdom

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Screenshots from Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Blu-ray

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 6, 2012

A costume drama like “Cheerful Weather for the Wedding” has to have an emotional hook, some type of profound feeling that eases the rigidity of the characters and their carefully mapped banter. Mercifully, the feature has such a grip, though it’s not as tight as hoped, only just enough to register momentarily before the entire effort washes away. Charmingly acted and bravely concluded, “Cheerful Weather” entertains intermittently with its stiff-upper-lip community interplay, only truly taking command when it focuses on unspoken desires and stymied confessions, creating more of a captivating fuss with its fixation on misery over any attempt at biting wit.

It’s a wedding celebration for young Dolly (Felicity Jones), a woman unable to hide her fear of a future with husband Owen (James Norton), a cold but successful man. On a blustery day in rural England, a party has commenced for the couple, with Dolly’s mother, Mrs. Thatcham (Elizabeth McGovern), presiding over the gathering with a fierce concentration on timing and household peace, juggling the needs of visiting family and friends. Out to break the veneer of bliss is Joseph (Luke Treadaway), who enjoyed a brief affair with Dolly before fear and life’s demands separated the couple. While invited to the event, Joseph isn’t welcomed by Mrs. Thatcham, who knows exactly what the debonair traveler is up to, hoping to obstruct his designs on Dolly on her big day. While chaos reigns downstairs, Dolly frets in her room, using booze to flush thoughts of Joseph and their summertime fling together out of her system, yet she can’t help but entertain thoughts of running away with her old beau, a development Joseph works up the courage to instigate.

Adapted from the 1932 novella by Julia Strachey, “Cheerful Weather” isn’t a story of manners, but one of longing trapped inside the mechanics of tradition. Co-written and directed by Donald Rice, the picture has a difficult time finding the right approach for such thin material (which takes place entirely in the Thatcham Estate), initially launching as a comedy of sorts, where all types of fussy and drunken guests gather for the festivities, following their discomfort and acts of sabotage as Dolly remains in her room, leaving the partygoers to fend for themselves. Unruliness arises, along with rumor and anxiety, especially from Kitty (a winning Ellie Kendrick), Dolly’s younger sister and a woman who fears her relative dowdiness will stain her romantic future. It’s a blend of performance extremes and combustible behavior (Joseph introduces homemade fireworks into the mix to agitate the group further) that hope to launch “Cheerful Weather” with a familiar velocity, guided by finger-snap dialogue exchanges laced with judgment, admission, and false pleasantries.

The speed of the feature is convincing, but rarely interesting, covering well-worn ground in the tea-and-disapproval genre, with McGovern’s casting particularly on the nose considering her well-regarded work on “Downton Abbey.” “Cheerful Weather” doesn’t ask anything new of the actress besides an attempt at an English accent. The picture comes alive when intimate with Dolly and Joseph, studying their daydreams and disturbed body language as they work separate corners of the house, waiting for the right moment to reconnect. Sold with plausible fear by Jones and Treadaway, the story of the flustered lovers is easily the most emotionally satisfying journey of the movie, carrying a heavy sense of grief for what might’ve been between these adventurous souls and their shared love of travel. The near miss is heartbreaking, assuming command of the film’s second half, allowing “Cheerful Weather” to conclude stronger than it begins.

The resolution of the tale is bittersweet, a feeling that befits the difficulties facing the main characters. Rice refuses syrup to play nuanced feelings, while nurturing a crippling sense of blocked communication to its natural conclusion. I wish “Cheerful Weather for the Wedding” carried this grief for the duration of the effort, passing on the ineffective comedy to remain in a place of nervousness that’s far more compelling than a survey of drunks, dowagers, and the uptight middle class Rice emphasizes throughout the film.

Starring: Elizabeth McGovern, Felicity Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Ellie Kendrick, Barbara Flynn, John Standing
Director: Donald Rice

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