After being asked by his brother, Tom (Robert Webb), to be best man at his impending wedding to Saskia (Lucy Punch), Raif (Rufus Hound) decides to mark the occasion by making a home video of the run-up to the special day, clashes and all. But, as the day nears, and various ructions occur, it becomes apparent that the wedding everyone expected, particularly Saskia’s overbearing mother (Harriet Walter) and conservative grandmother (Miriam Margolyes), may not be the wedding that comes to pass.
The fly-on-the-wall style approach with which The Wedding Video plays out is a welcome touch adopted by experienced director Nigel Cole, and does wonders to raise Tim Firth’s prosaic and overly familiar narrative structure into something a little more peppy. The results, however, are only intermittently successful and limited to a few set pieces (a tour around a stately home, an absurd dance rehearsal and various encounters with an ex-air hostess come wedding planner, played by the on-form Michelle Gomez).
Unfortunately, it loses its charm far too quickly as it ties itself too closely to an almost clip show-esque sensibility. This not only restricts the bond created between audience and character, but it also results in a film almost entirely devoid of intimacy. Even when brief moments of sentiment do transpire in amongst the never-ending wisecracking, like, for example, when a clearly transformed Raif recounts his parents unfortunate death to Saskia, they’re quickly squashed by increasingly irritating scene change.
It’s not even like the humour compensates with its consistency, as most of the written gags are either predictable or too reliant on the cast’s comedic chops. And, while Cole does his best to bring a touch of familiarity and warmth to proceedings, and the poptastic soundtrack attempts to divert attention away from the jarring tonal shifts, it’s ultimately left to the cast to pick up the pieces and use their know-how to inject whatever charisma they can into their unfairly underwritten characters.
Punch, in particular, delivers a lively turn as the disorderly Saskia; her amusement infectious and steady turnaround somewhat believable. Walters makes an admirable attempt to infuse her uptight matriarch with a deep-rooted warmth, and mostly succeeds, but it’s Hound – when allowed the opportunity to properly act – who surprises as Raif, showing there may be more to him than what we’ve previously been subjected to. The less said about Webb and Margolyes, however, the better.
Tedious as it nears its scrambled final act, and only slightly amusing beforehand, The Wedding Video isn’t a Brit-com that will provide a decent distraction to the blockbuster-laden summer. But, despite its steady charm, moderately winning alternative style and the try-hard efforts of its cast and director, it’s blithe, without ever being the rom-com revising thrill it wants to be.