Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Cheerful" Visit to the European Film Festival

I look forward to the European Film Festival (EFF) every year here in Trinidad. The European diplomatic missions in this country - France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom - get together to show films from the European Union. For me, it's a time to see lots of movies which would not normally be shown here, and which I am unlikely to see on cable. I have seen some really odd movies, some really unusual ones, and I've come away with amazing experiences and some favourite movies (e.g. "The Secret Life of Words" which is so affecting yet uplifting. SEE IT!) Usually the showcase takes place in my birthday month for October, but the organizers moved it to May this year, and I must say that I was most pleased. We just came through the beginning-of-the-year movie dry spell, and it was such a long wait to the next EFF, this was a sudden and nice surprise. I don't even mind that because May is our local movie theatre's busy month, loyal patrons of the EFF have to pay TT$30 instead of the usual TT$15 for admission. That's still far cheaper than a regular movie around these parts, so it's not stopping me. 

The first movie I've seen for the festival was a British one called Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.  If you read this blog long enough, you'll see I am naturally drawn to British things - I can't control it. It's a weakness. It just happens. Other selling points was that it was billed as a comedy and had the pixie-like Felicity Jones who I found mesmerizing in Northanger Abbey. She seems so childlike and otherworldly; she is fascinating to look at. The story is set in England in the 1930's - a setting featuring slender women languidly smoking, rowing, picnics on the river and sudden bursts of rain. The sort of era and place where someone would name their daughters Dolly and Kitty. Felicity Jones plays Dolly who wakes up on the morning of her wedding and dawdles upstairs an obscenely long time while her family waits for her and wonders what's keeping her. You can feel the potential for drama building as her mother tries to act like nothing seems amiss and that it's not strange at all that Dolly has also invited a former boyfriend to celebrate the big day. Joseph looks like a thinner Dan Stevens (from Downton Abbey - which I haven't seen and Sense and Sensibility - which I have and loved), and he is very uncertain and confused about why he is there in the first place. 

If you're expecting a subtle British comedy with witty dialogue with some darker emotion worked into it for this movie, you're right. You get drawn into watching the characters dance around each other,and all the time you're waiting for something to spark and cause the drama brewing to surge to the fore. The humour is good too. I grinned at the clever remarks and the quirky characters which are inevitable in all weddings - especially in weddings in British comedies. Some of my favourites were Elizabeth McGovern as Dolly's mother who tries so hard to make sure everything goes well that she seems blind to everything that is wrong. As Dolly's sister Kitty, Ellie Kendrick feels left out and awkward and devoid of romance in her life. She even looks as if she doesn't quite fit beside her assured, elegant sister.

If you're interested you should watched the trailer and head out and take a look at it.

If you've seen the movie or don't mind being spoiled for key plot points, read on:

 HERE                                     THERE                                      BE                             SPOILERS

I admired how the plot moved back and forth to the golden, perfect summer when Kitty and Joseph meet and become closer. There is a scene between them which is shown more than once and which changes subtly every time it was shown. I liked how it built up the anticipation of what had happened and slowly revealed clues of Kitty's situation. I wonder if it's supposed to reflect the different ways each felt about the encounter.

I waited curiously for the ending wondering how it would come to a close and thinking that there was no way the lovers would be separated. Did anyone else hope/expect Kitty to come back at the end - even when she had driven out of sight with her new husband in the car? I thought she would for a long time, probably because I am used to American romantic comedies. I think if the movie had been one of those, there was no way it would have ended in this melancholy way. While Kitty's mother can pretend that everything really was "cheerful", the viewer is more likely to remember the grey landscape and the cold draft of rain as everyone morosely took the wedding photo in front of the camera. 

I recommend this film, and suggest fans of this type of movie should go see it. If for some incomprehensible reason, you don't like this type of movie, the EFF features a variety of genres: thrillers, drama, documentaries. Check out their schedule to find out more:

My next film on my "To See List" is "Eleanor's Secret", a French animated film. The synopsis states:

Seven-year-old Nathaniel goes with his parents to spend the summer in the villa that belonged to his aunt Eleanor. Nathaniel has inherited his aunt’s library of old books, but he has no interest in them. That is until he discovers the books are alive with characters from classic fairy tales!
This is clearly a movie which was made especially with me in mind.....or I hope it is. I shall post my thoughts next week, so be sure and visit the Crossroads again.

Post below and let me know what movies you've seen for the film festival, and share what you think about "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" if you saw it.

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