I am starting to become convinced that there will never be a movie wedding that goes off without a hitch, as they say. It’s cinematically impossible not to have something, anything, or everything go wrong. But, that’s the fun of all those movies, including the new Netflix film Love Wedding Repeat. There is always comedy to be had when a springboard event of enduring love can survive in every cringe, surprise, fumble, flub, and fail executed by the doting newlyweds on down to the drunk ne’er-do-wells.
Brides and grooms alike may beg, pray, and downright will these festivals of matrimony into the “perfect days” they say they always dream of. The wild truth is a zillion things have to align out of any couple’s control. The beauty, if anything, is in the luck born from imperfection that happens before one’s eyes. No one remembers perfection. They remember the unorchestrated happenstance that still turned out great, even out of embarrassment.
That said, we’ll always remember the truly mortifying too, and a dish of that awaits here. Love Wedding Repeat chalks up its minefield of mistakes to cosmic chance. A divinely voiced female oracle hammers that horoscope home, reminding viewers that “all it takes is one moment of ill-fortune for our hopes and dreams to go right down the shitter.” Lady, you nailed it. The unique amusement of this movie comes from the “repeat” portion of its title. Just when you think what transpires can’t be recovered, writer-director Dean Craig rewinds to a crucial moment and tries it all over again.
Our narrative keel listing back and forth in the waters of kismet is brother-of-the-bride Jack, played by Me Before You’s heartbreaker Sam Clafin. For him, his sister Hayley’s (Eleanor Tomlinson of Jack the Giant Slayer) wedding is a chance to meet “the one that got away.” Three years earlier, he spent a dreamy night in Italy with Hayley’s American friend Dina, played as a fetching bullseye of attraction by Olivia Munn. A bad moment of that aforementioned chance derailed his momentum of sealing the evening with continuing connection and, more importantly, a kiss. She’s coming to this gorgeous Italian wedding and is stupendously single. Naturally and nevertheless, pitfalls of many forms block that prospect of renewed magic.
Jack has to avoid his bitchy ex Amanda (Freida Pinto) and her jealous boyfriend Chaz (TV actor Allan Mustafa), dodge the chatty trap of the third-wheeled idiot Rebecca (fellow TV mainstay Aisling Bea), compete with his kilted wannabe lady-killing buddy Sidney (standup comedian Tim Frey), and practically babysit his unreliable best bloke and the “maid of honor” Bryan (Yesterday’s scene-stealer Joel Fry). The worst danger of all is the uninvited and coked-up Marc (Poldark’s Jack Farthing) who has been obsessed with pursuing Hayley since they were teens. The catalyst that starts colliding these amorous asteroids is a wrongly-placed roofie at the “English Table” where all of these characters are assigned.
Love Wedding Repeat definitely makes a list of mistakes not to make at a wedding. The tally could go on for days beyond the sleeping medicine that is already in play. The movie will tally new haircuts, inattention, kilts, “wedding buddies,” lies of infidelity, and over-drinking on that thick list. What always makes it funny to watch is the safety in knowing this is not your wedding from the comfort of your Netflix-receiving couch.
Much of the deranged dither of these bumbling Brits is a hoot to watch. An array of physical expressions of delight, determination, hate, abbreviation, revulsion, concealment, embarrassment, and more emanate from the cast. Ahead of that body language, lines are pushed through gritted teeth and pensive smiles while the proper classical strings of Rossini, Verde, and Mozart orchestrate the chaos. The actors are given the space and the scenarios to have a ball. Eleanor Tomlinson’s f-word-laden frazzle through the facade of necessary pleasantry might even top the wincing unraveling of rooting for Sam Clafin to win the girl.
For as much as each on the ensemble has their twirl in the spotlight, their characters got there either stumbling to the front or seizing it for themselves. Either way, they rolled with it because, as the movie professes, “chance is success or failure in love.” It’s always quick to note “chance can be a real bastard,” so be careful. The best route remains the latter one with confident initiative. Tell people in the way of your moment to f–k off and keep you from missing it.
Standing as a remake to the 2012 French film Plan de table, the unpredictability is what keeps Love Wedding Repeat quite lively. For the movie to freeze, turn on a dime, and take us back to the front of the roller coaster is a deft little dalliance. Bravo to Dean Craig, the double Death at a Funeral screenwriter of both the Franz Oz British original and the Neil LaBute American remake, making his debut as a feature director. He took the French’s concept and the ironic tropes of movie weddings and bent enough kinks to make something devilishly delightful.