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The joy of class

MIKE NEWELL's film Four Weddings and a Funeral shows just that - no more, no less, except for allowing one connecting scene (the trying-on of a wedding dress). Richard Curtis's script performs on a tightrope strung between social satire and sentimental comedy.

As the four weddings and funeral of the title happen in England (with one foray into Scotland), each character is obliged to declare his family background, social class, personal history and inclinations. Curtis and Newell had a lot of fun with this. They play up to the prescribed order of things without letting it overwhelm the story. Misunderstandings of class and allusions to modern life in the UK provide a lot of laughs, and also serve to place the characters for the audience and give the actors the clues they need to work with.

In the course of these five ceremonies, their minor hiccups and genuine disasters, we get to the very heart of this tribe, which though far from sterotyped, is recognisable enough to make us feel we are attending a family reunion too. But this is where Newell and Curtis fall into a trap of their own making. So subtle are the characters' relationships that the script has to resort to relatively coarse manoeuvres in order to find an ending for the film. This is only a minor fault, and doesn't for a minute spoil the joy of this exploration of the British class system.

Le Monde, French daily

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