'Four Weddings & A Funeral'
(Hugh Grant, James Fleet, Simon Callow, John Hannah, et al / Blu ray / R / (1994) 2011 / MGM)
Overview: Charlie (Grant) is always the best man but never the groom. Determined to avoid even a hint of commitment, this handsome English gentleman is notoriously late to every wedding. But today he's in for a real surprise because not only did he forget the ring... but he also just caught a glimpse of the girl of his dreams (MacDowell)!
Blu ray Verdict: 'Four Weddings and a Funeral,' a British romantic comedy/drama, caused something of a sensation upon its release. It broke all records for worldwide box-office take by a British picture: and not very many British pictures since have done as well. It was received rapturously by many important critics, and was nominated for a "Best Picture" Academy Award.
It boosted the careers of its director, Mike Newell, and most of its talented cast members. It also made its star, Hugh Grant, flavor of the decade - and counting - as leading man of any English-speaking romantic comedy.
It put its author, Richard Curtis, at the head of what has since become an English cottage industry, the creation of romantic Brit-coms (see 'Notting Hill,' 'Love Actually', etc.) Yet, when it was made, the budget was so tight that those glorious Scottish wedding scenes were all filmed in Hampshire, a Home County near London. And the numerous wedding scene extras were required to wear their own evening dress.
Most everyone knows the plot, but here goes. Charles (Grant) is one of a group of young friends looking unsuccessfully, it seems, for love. Charles is commitment-phobic; yet he, his roommate, Scarlett (Charlotte Coleman), and the crowd seem to spend every Saturday going, late, to weddings, where they are frequently members of the wedding parties.
Disastrous best man speeches are made, rings are forgotten. Then Charles spots the beautiful American Carrie (Andie MacDowell) at a wedding, and much yearning ensues. Carrie announces her engagement to, and marries, a rich, older Scot, Hamish (Corin Redgrave).
But, of course, true love triumphs and triumphs and triumphs. There are viewers that consider MacDowell's performance too passive, but everyone agrees Grant created the perfect romantic English lead, shy, stuttering, hair in his eyes. Coleman, who unfortunately died much too young, in an asthma attack, made Scarlett touching and real. Redgrave, well, of course.
The supporting cast was also uniformly excellent, and funny. Rowan Atkinson is hilarious in a small part as Father Gerald, priest in training. James Fleet does good work as Tom, the crowd's millionaire. Kristin Scott Thomas is beautiful, beautifully-dressed, witty, touching and intelligent as Tom's sister Fiona, who's unfortunate enough to love Charles.
Theater stalwart Simon Callow shines as the gay Gareth; and, as for John Hannah, playing his lover Matthew; well, it's all been said, hasn't it. Though I'd add that I never yet have re watched this movie - did so again last night - without being reduced to tears by his reading of WH Auden's "Funeral Blues" poem at Gareth's untimely funeral. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.