“Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.”
It may be the most vomit-inducing line in modern cinema, to the point that it’s rather overshadowed people’s opinions of the movie. The fact is that beyond that moment, Four Weddings & A Funeral is a rather wry, witty, sweet and somewhat subversive romantic comedy. Indeed it’s the fact that it doesn’t take the usual route of generic rom-coms that turned it into a huge hit, which on its release became one of the biggest movies ever at the UK box office.
If you haven’t seen it, the title is very literal, as the film takes place over the course of four weddings and a funeral, as we chart the course of the relationship between Charles (Grant) and Carrie (MacDowell), who meet at the first wedding and take a rather unusual romantic course through the other ceremonies.
Around them are various other characters, including Charles’ friend Scarlett (Coleman), the rich but dim Tom (James Fleet), loving gay couple Matthew and Gareth (John Hannah and Simon Callow), and the unlucky in love Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Matthew and Gareth remain one of my favourite gay couples in mainstream cinema, simply because the film treats their relationship so matter of factly. By not shouting about it, it almost becomes more politically powerful, as it presents homosexuality as part of the fabric of life that’s barely worth commenting on because it’s so normal.
In most cinema homosexuality is still the ‘other’, something unusual to be remarked on, but in Four Weddings it’s quiet, loving and powerful. It also leads to the film’s highest emotional point, and it actually says something that they’d base that moment on a tragedy that’s befallen a gay relationship. Gareth and Matthew often get forgotten when people talk about gay characters in cinema, and it’s because the fact that they’re gay is so incidental and unremarkable, but in truth it makes them all the more powerful.
While he was already a big wheel in TV comedy thanks to the likes of Blackadder, Four Weddings was what put Richard Curtis on the big screen map. Since then his name has become a bit of a byword for cheery, cheesy Brit-coms that are too rose-tinted for their own good. While that’s true of the likes of Love Actually, I feel it’s actually a slightly unfair reputation, as he’s got a darker, more subversive eye than many give him credit for. After all, Four Weddings is ultimately a love story about two people who have to learn they shouldn’t ever get married (and if you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, I haven’t really spoiled things for you).
Curtis has always maintained that his view of life is actually more realistic than the dark, dismal, gritty tales that normally get praised for their realism. He’s right, as those movies often equate misery with reality, and only really reflect the truth of life as lived by very, very few people. Curtis takes on more universal targets in the life and love of normal (albeit rather middle class) people, where things potter along in a relatively benign fashion most of the time, people have a laugh and live their lives, with things punctuated by major highs and lows. Yes, in Four Weddings he contrives things so they fit into five special occasions and a filmic storyline, but he does touch on truths that many people will be able to relate to. And he does it with great wit.
So what does it look like on Blu-ray? Well, the results are oddly mixed. The picture quality is undoubtedly better, but it underlines the fact that in the last 18 years (yes, it’s 18 years old!) Four Weddings has aged rather fast. It’s odd how some movies age and others don’t, but the movie that made Hugh Grant a global star undoubtedly looks like a product of its time. However if you want to see the height of 1994 fashion (meringue wedding dresses and all) with good clarity and an excellent colour palette, the Blu-ray certainly does the trick.
The disc also includes a decent selection of special features, which fans will enjoy taking a look through.
Overall Verdict: Although it looks a tad dated, Four Weddings is a wry and witty rom-com that scrubs up quite well on Blu-ray.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac