Friday, 10 February 2017

Jenny's Wedding (2015)

Decisions, decisions. Each week I need to weigh up what I have viewed over the last seven days and to decide which of those films to dissect. It's easy if I've been out to the cinema or finally caught up with a long lost treasure, but most weeks it's a question of sifting through the dross and deciding which has had left any lasting impression (at least in the short term). I was tempted to write about "It Follows" (2014) which I found a refreshingly different horror movie. However it boasts a no-name cast -- the biggest 'name' is Maika Monroe (!) who is also a professional kite-boarder -- and the other leads could have been anyone. Its premise is that having sex with the wrong partner curses one with a relentless face-changing 'follower' (out to do you in) until you pass on the curse by having sex with an unwitting someone else. Not that this actually cancels out the curse from the various characters met here. Regardless, the film manages to be unusually creepy with a slightly disturbing vibe -- and I've not a great deal more to say about it.

So I am left with the above film which is an unlikely contender, since the tale of two lesbians hoping to marry but reluctant to come 'out' to their family is nowadays rather old-hat. It could well have been made a decade ago or even formed the basis for an intelligent TVM. Written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue, better-known as a screenwriter, it creates a leading role for Katherine Heigl, whose career path has taken a downhill spiral since her heyday of "Knocked Up" (2007) and "27 Dresses" (2008). In fact it is her most recent release to date, although I believe there are one or two in post-production. To mirror my own woeful lack of knowledge and possibly prejudice, she seems far too glamourous and unaffected to portray a believable gay, but what do I know?

She has lived with her 'roommate' Alexis Bledel for five years now but can't bring herself to tell her doting parents (Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond) that her roomie is also her lover and that they wish to marry. At her parents' anniversary party (not the best opportunity I would suggest) she takes each of them aside and confesses the 'awful truth' to much shock and horror, but promises not to let the rest of their family and friends in on her secret, leaving her sister to spread the rumour that she is involved with a married man -- more 'horror' but not quite so horrible as being gay. Dad is a fireman and is completely au fait with the macho posturings at his firehouse and can not conceive what his beloved daughter might get up to in bed. Mom blames herself,  All of the best stereotypical reactions are on display, but actually both actors do a splendid and believable job considering the script's clichés. Wilkinson is at his usual authentic flabbergasted best and Emond, with whom I was not previously familiar, morphs into the broken-hearted mum who had always dreamed of her favourite child's wedding day.

Her sister (Meryl Streep's little girl Grace Gummer) learns the truth when she sees the pair kissing in a bridal shop and promptly tells her mother, who of course already knew. This convinces her that Mum has been lying to her and trying to protect her better-loved child. Gummer is the ugly duckling of the pair, something of a baby machine, and married to a no-goodnik; she's completely taken aback when Heigl asks her to be her Maid of Honour. Their brother of course has guessed the truth since their high school days. Gummer is gifted with the movie's best line -- 'happy people don't have dead grass' -- a reflection of her own loveless marriage vs. her sister's radiant happiness with her proposed life partner, and a cue to dump her husband.

There is a further showdown between daughter and parents at a funeral parlour (she really does choose her venues poorly) where family friends learn the big secret (and the disgrace!).
However the wedding plans proceed, as gradually Mum and eventually Dad (on the day) accept that love conquers all. It all sounds ever so corny as I have outlined it, but it was surprisingly watchable and at times even genuinely moving. So there you go!

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