LETTER:In praise of 'Four Weddings'

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Sir: The paucity of spirit evident in Gerald Kaufman's analysis of Four Weddings and a Funeral makes one wonder if he is sufficiently human to understand its appeal (Another View; "Bafta's marital mistake", 25 April). How cynical is his view of human nature if he believes that the tens of millions who went to see it were duped by a PR campaign? A patronising stance, to say the least.

Certainly, if he can't remember the film's principal characters, he is ill-qualified to lecture the rest of us on its shortcomings, whatever they may be. Nor can he tell us what is worth laughing at when he doesn't even seem to understand how humour works. It would be a poor script indeed that relied on humorous "words", but "total penis" is funny because it is said in sign language, "duckface" because it hints at jealousy, and "bonking" because it is said several times before the character suddenly realises she is talking to a child, who has no idea what it means. A joke is never funny when explained, but Mr Kaufman seems to "need" to have them explained.

And what is it that Mr Kaufman finds so objectionable about the characters? That they have plummy accents? That one of them is rich? That they attend weddings in attractive country villages and dress up for the occasion? Oh, shame upon them!

Yes, there is a flaw in the logic of the film: the Andie MacDowell character is so manifestly unsympathetic that she and Hugh Grant should not end up together - the obvious emotional choice is Kristin Scott Thomas. But this cannot be laid at the feet of scriptwriter Richard Curtis who, in the Blackadder series showed a control of form unsurpassed in British comedy writing. I suspect that Ms MacDowell demanded a happy ending in return for her involvement - one of the absurdities of Hollywood in which internal politics so often dictate artistic form.

If there is any shame for the British film-making community in Four Weddings and a Funeral, indeed for Mr Kaufman as a member of the Commons select committee on National Heritage, it is precisely that funding had to be found abroad - whence its profits will, as he laments, return.

Yours sincerely,

PAUL CAIRA

London, SW18

25 April

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