Friday, July 09, 2010

Revisiting Four Weddings

The window guys did finally call -- during the less than two hours I was out of the house all day. I'd told them that I'd be around all morning and then in the late afternoon, so of course they called just before 2. But then they came by when I called them back after I got home from physical therapy. It never ceases to amaze me how difficult so many repair people are to deal with. I guess they know they have valuable skills, but it's almost like they work hard to maximize the inconvenience for their customers. I know that the cable company is supposed to be the epitome of annoying to deal with, but so far, they've been a dream compared to any plumbers, electricians or air conditioning people I've dealt with. Don't even get me started on appliance delivery people or movers.

I scratched my chick flick itch last night by watching Four Weddings and a Funeral. I guess it's not strictly a chick flick, as it's very much from the male perspective, but the target audience is women, so I'm going with it. It was also the kind of thing I was in the mood for, and since I was using it as background noise while doing some work, something old and familiar was perfect.

I have a love/hate relationship with that movie. I love the concept of following a group of people just through a series of major events, and using those events to show how those people's lives have changed. When I first saw that movie, I was in my mid-20s and in that phase of life when all my friends seemed to be getting married, so I was going to at least one wedding a month, and I could totally relate to the feeling that my social life revolved around weddings. I love that crazy, quirky group of friends, and the wedding scenes are brilliant. I haven't been stuck at a table of exes, but I have been at a wedding where I ran into every guy I'd dated in the past several years.

The problem for me is that I really hate the "love interest" character, and the central romantic relationship doesn't work for me at all. Andie MacDowell played the role like she thought "sedated and bored" was the same as "sexily languid," and I can't get behind a relationship that involves cheating.

I guess I should warn that there will be spoilers here, for those who haven't seen this movie and think they still might someday.

I think my main problem is that the relationship never looked all that interesting to me. They exchanged a few words at one wedding and ended up sleeping together. Then she ditched him, and the next time he saw her was at another wedding, where again they exchanged a few words before going back to her hotel together and having sex again -- in spite of the fact that she's engaged and went with her fiance to the wedding. And then after helping her pick out a wedding dress and hearing her litany of ex-lovers, he declares his love for her? It almost seems like the thing he loves about her is that he doesn't even have to try to get her in bed. I can't make myself see it as a tragic loss when she marries someone else, though I do feel sorry for her groom. It doesn't help that the structure of the movie, seeing these characters only at events surrounding weddings, means we don't get a sense for what her relationship is like. Her fiance serves purely as a temporary roadblock to the supposed One True Love, and we never know why she goes through with the wedding after hearing the declaration of love and seeming to reciprocate. Then there's the fact that even though she's been divorced for months, she shows up at the church on the morning of his wedding to tell him she's now available. That's just tacky. It puts him in an awkward position and sets his bride up for public humiliation. Just a day or two earlier, and they could have at least avoided having all this happen in front of a church full of people. I can't see Our Hero ending up with this inconsiderate bitch to be a happy ending.

Speaking of the ending, I remember it being a huge letdown when I first saw the movie, before I'd even noticed all the other problems. It's not just that I'm old-fashioned enough to want the couple to end up married. It's a story structure thing. If your premise is that a man attends a lot of weddings without ever getting married, himself, because he's a serial monogamist who can't quite commit, leaving a string of disappointed girlfriends behind him, then he pretty much has to end up getting married if we're to believe he's grown. Having the grand romantic declaration of a commitmentphobe be "will you not marry me?" doesn't really work.

I wanted him to end up with Fiona, the delightfully snarky friend harboring a secret crush on him. The enigmatic American could have proved to be a red herring, as he realizes that pursuing an unattainable woman is the ultimate sign of his commitment issues, and developing a friendship into something more that leads to commitment is scary but worthwhile. Seeing from the funeral what true love really means could easily have led to that.

I'd love a movie with the feel and tone of Four Weddings and a Funeral, but with a central relationship that I actually cheer for and an ending I like. (There is Love, Actually, but that to me is more a series of vignettes and not quite the same thing.)

It does seem from these movies like an enigmatic American woman, especially one with a southern accent, is like catnip to British men. I didn't quite experience that on my trips to England, though I was traveling alone on the first trip and didn't interact with that many people for them to know I was American, and on the second trip, I completely lost my voice, so you couldn't tell my accent from the hoarse whisper. I was also more in "hiking" mode than "glamour" mode on both trips. Maybe I should get myself invited to a wedding in the UK, where I can go be all glamorous and American and then see what happens.

Now I need to start checking the weather radar. I don't have any panels today at Mythcon, but there are some I might want to attend, as long as I don't have to drive through the daily torrential downpour to get there.

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