The Wilde Wedding
dir-scr Damian Harris
prd Andrew Karsch
with Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Patrick Stewart, Minnie Driver, Jack Davenport, Peter Facinelli, Noah Emmerich, Grace Van Patten, Yael Stone, Lilly Englert, Tim Boardman, Victoria Guerra
release US 15.Sep.17
17/US 1h35
The Wilde Wedding
Family matters: Stewart, Emmerich and Close

malkovich driver davenport
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Wilde Wedding Smiley and slick, this jagged comedy is packed with so many colourful characters that there's never a dull moment. It's an engaging, watchable movie that taps into a variety of themes. And it's packed with hilariously sparky performances. Writer-director Harris keeps everything somewhat coy, never quite diving into the possibilities in the story. But it's enjoyable while it lasts.

The Wilde family isn't great at relationships, but they're gathering to celebrate the wedding of movie star matriarch Eve (Glose) and novelist Harold (Stewart). Eve's three sons - musician Rory (Davenport), hopeless romantic Jimmy (Emmerich), confirmed bachelor Ethan (Facinelli) - are on hand, as is Rory's popstar ex-wife Priscilla (Driver) and members of the next generation. There's also Eve's first husband, serious actor Laurence (Malkovich), here to "see her off" once again. All of this is being documented by 16-year-old granddaughter Mackenzie (Van Patten), who knows that this weekend is likely to be a disaster.

The central conflict in most of these relationships centres on the nature of success, pairing commercially popular stars with struggling artists. Jealousies swell everywhere, as do unexpected lusty antics. And further provocations, including expressions of unending devotion, come thanks to copious amounts of alcohol and Ethan's magic mushroom chocolates. But even with the bed-hopping antics, Harris never plays this as a black comedy, instead mixing the tone of a warm American family drama with a French farce.

Groomed to perfection, the entire cast relishes every character detail. These are smart, hot messes. Close is radiant if a bit enigmatic, letting Malkovich and Stewart play skilfully with their simmering rivalry. All three generate terrific chemistry as they dig gently beneath the surface of their characters. Davenport and Driver make the most of their screwball characters. But then everyone on-screen is a shameless scene-stealer, which suits the characters perfectly. Of course, as the event unfolds the conversations get increasingly barbed, with serious undercurrents that aren't so easy to laugh off.

The sprawling collection of people on-screen keeps things busy, and it's fun to watch the various textures in each relationship, from random new couplings to interaction that resonates with years of experience. And the warmth of long, lingering connections is surprisingly touching. The film jumps from scene to scene as each person gets up to something they'd rather keep secret. And it kind of hedges around issues of infidelity, even as it ignores sexuality and only obliquely touches on diversity. But straight white people are likely to love it.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 25.Aug.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall