This is the third feature from Vancouver director Bruce Sweeney (“Live Bait,” “Dirty”). It’s fun, tense and sometimes painful the way good, grungy “relationship” cinema can be.
The wedding of the title, mercifully, isn’t the focus; it’s merely the centrepiece of a larger muddle involving three couples’ disintegration. Noah (Ben Ratner) and Zipporah (Frida Betrani, a Sweeney newcomer who won a Women in Film and Video – Vancouver award at VIFF for her performance) are the couple getting married, too soon for her family’s taste. Betrani is a whirlwind dynamo; her schizoid sex-bomb/temper-tantrum act was a treat. Peter (Tom Scholte) is a friend of Noah’s who is becoming bored with his girlfriend Leslie (Nancy Sivak), and has an affair. Shane (Vincent Gale) gets jealous of his girlfriend Sarah (Molly Parker) because her job is better than his, and her apathetic politics are what gets it for her.
Sweeney’s painting background has finally availed him of strong shape and colour. TLW plays with editing and thus composition more purposefully than Dirty, with its reliance on theatrical long takes. Many scenes involve one character entirely facing away from camera, blocking parts of the other character and so on.
Little touches of reality are what make this a good flick: as Peter makes out with one of his students, he trips a little, says, “Did I step on your foot?” and they keep going. Not dwelled upon, not a comedic interlude, just a micro-intrusion of hard reality, a tiny moment of tension (Will they stop making out? Will the film cheap out and insert a tuba wa-wa?) and then on with the scene.
Parker gives what is probably her best performance (here’s a clue: give her a script, people!) and Gale is quietly adept, giving one of those full, subtle performances that British actors would sniff at and not criticize immediately.
Unfortunately, some of the comedy falls flat, especially between Sivak and Scholte. Scholte’s Woody Allen shtick (“We’re entering a new millenium and you’re pickling!”) seems out of place. Their relationship is the most poorly-drafted, but luckily makes up for it with the familiar theme: Scholte is having an affair. Good actors like them can always find texture and nuance in such a reliable conflict, and they do.
The unbelievable (in a good way) car chase, which comes as quite a surprise, serves to ground the film in an earlier era, the His-Girl-Friday goofball comedies which occasionally abandon the real in favour of energy and emotion.
Obsessives note: Sweeney switcheroo’d from his trademark 1-per-film male-groin shot to a female-nudity moment in TLW. This new scene is more fetishized and less naturalistic, proving that male directors will be male directors.