Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
The American Anglophile's appetite for watching upper-class Brits lolling through the hardships of being rich, overeducated, bored, bitchy, and almost fundamentally useless is apparently endless. What's most interesting about the Downton Abbey/Gosford Park/"upstairs/downstairs" template is its indulgence in two fantasies: First, the endless possibilities of wealth and the gilded victimization that comes with it. ("Mo' money, mo' problems," said Biggie.) Second is the class pandering that also allows average viewers to feel superior to their class betters. Our proxies—the put-upon servants—are all-seeing but tight-lipped founts of wisdom whose understanding of the real world underscores what twits the ruling classes are. Director Donald Rice's adaptation of Julia Strachey's 1932 novella, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, suffers for coming late to the genre. Set on the wedding day of Dolly Thatcham (Felicity Jones) and Owen Bigham (James Norton), the film finds all manner of familial tensions slowly spilling forth in steely quips and acid-covered bons mots before the not-quite-so-happy twosome can make it down the aisle. At the center of it all is the unresolved affair between Dolly and Joseph (Luke Treadaway), whom Dolly has invited to the wedding. For good measure, Dolly's world-weary best friend, Evelyn (Zoë Tapper, serving up a poor man's Kristin Scott Thomas), flings zingers from the sidelines. The costumes are gorgeous, and the settings are plush, but the acting is merely serviceable, and the film lacks either the wit or the energy of its predecessors. Long before it ends, you find yourself indifferent to the fate of the mismatched lovebirds or anyone else in the tale.
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