"Last Wedding" is a movie about male/female relationships -- bad male/female relationships. It's not about anything else, so after 100 minutes you'll either want to get divorced or throw a cooked chicken at writer-director Bruce Sweeney
. The latter proves to be an effective weapon one woman uses against her husband, so that's not as far-fetched as it sounds.
This Canadian film, selected as the opening-night gala for the Toronto Film Festival, has secured Canadian distribution, but theatrical chances elsewhere look grim.
Sweeney, making his third film, proves adept at constructing scenes of brutal emotional violence: Scenes where couples push all the right buttons to tear each other apart. Yet in each instance, he fails to provide an underlying reason for the over-the-top dysfunction.
The three couples at the center of the movie individually suffer from career pressures, petty jealousies and general dissatisfaction with life. Yet why these troubles spill over into their romantic relationships to such a poisonous degree is never clear.
The movie starts off as a romantic comedy about a Jewish couple -- Noah (Benjamin Ratner
), a water-proofing expert, and Zipporah (Frida Betrani
), a hugely untalented country singer -- who are desperate to get married after a six-month courtship. This desire flourishes despite solid reservations from family, friends, spiritual advisers and even their own inner voices.
Noah breaks the news to his fishing buddies Peter (Tom Scholte
), a Canadian lit professor, and Shane (Vincent Gale), a disillusioned architect, who react with underwhelming enthusiasm. Both live with their girlfriends in apparent harmony, yet subterranean cracks are developing there too.
After the wedding, things go from bad to worse in all three cases. Zipporah's singing career is a nonstarter, so she spends her days watching TV and her nights making her husband miserable. Peter lets an oversexed student (Marya Delver
) all too easily come between him and his librarian girlfriend, Leslie (Nancy Sivak
). Shane rages against the success his girlfriend, Sarah (Molly Parker), experiences in her new architectural job.
The film's comic tone soon enough gets tossed out in favor of sheer nastiness and sexual candor. Yet the film fails as drama since its superficial fight scenes never explore the characters' true anxieties or emotional needs. You can't even imagine why these couples are couples. To create "The War of the Roses", you must first have roses.
Perhaps Sweeney is aiming for a dark satire about relationships. But the third act is far too late for such a tonal change.
The film succeeds in two areas: For once, physical violence is perpetuated by women against men. And if not for once then certainly for one of the few times, Vancouver, British Columbia, actually represents the city of Vancouver.
Last Wedding Prods.
with the participation of
the Canadian Television Fund, Telefilm Canada
Executive producer:G.D. Sweeney
Director of photography:David Pelletier
Production designer:Tony Devenyi
Costume designer:Andrea Hiestand
Running time -- 100 minutes
No MPAA rating