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This film is meticulously presented and is both a celebration of English eccentricity and an understated examination of how families often do everything they can to avoid saying how they really feel. Dolly Thatcham (Felicity Jones) is to be married to the wealthy Owen (James Norton) after a very brief engagement: Dolly delays her preparations for the ceremony by drinking rum upstairs as she has flashbacks to her real romance a summer ago with the young professor Joseph Patten (Luke Treadaway) whom Dolly has invited to the wedding (to her mother's (Elizabeth McGovern) chagrin and Joseph waits downstairs with the entire bizarre family and friends awaiting Dolly's descent to proceed to the church. The story is interrupted with all manner of subplots including the strange behavior of Dolly's younger sister Kitty (Ellie Kendrick) who provides the audience with a naïveté that reveals so much about what everyone else is really thinking but just can't bring themselves to say.
Among the entertaining eccentrics having luncheon before the wedding are the bickering married couple (Fenella Woolgar and Mackenzie Crook) attempting to stop their son young Jimmy (Ben Greaves-Neil) from setting off little bombs throughout the house, aging but silly Aunt Bella (Barbara Flynn) seducing her chauffeur (Emil Lager), the perennial old maid Miss Spoon (Joanna Hole), the day's drunk Tom (Olly Alexander) and of course the only people about whom we care - the servants (Eva Traynor, Paola Dionisotti, Sophie Stanton, Kenneth Collard. The use of flashbacks to give us insight into Dolly's dilemma of marrying for convenience instead of for love is beautifully handled by creating a golden glow touch to the sequences from the past by cinematographer John Lee and a lovely musical score by Michael Price. And in a final farewell speech Joseph manages to put everything in its rightful place. It all works well, but put on the subtitles or you'll be in the dark.
Set in a stately country home in perhaps the 1930s, the movie covers the events of one morning and afternoon. Dolly is about to wed Owen, yet Joseph turns up the morning of the wedding. We find that there had been a whirlwind romance between Joseph and Dolly the previous summer, that Dolly's mother was against the match, and now Joseph returns at the 11th hour to perhaps intervene?
There are far too many supporting characters to mention, and they are essential to the movie's success, but the emotional focus is entirely on Dolly and Joseph. The story of their past romance is artfully narrated in a series of flashbacks (the colour palette changes each time we flash back) which interweave nicely with the events of the wedding day. The emotion between them is portrayed with sensitivity and realism; their interactions with those around them (who are mostly oblivious to what is going on) are often funny but also laced with pathos. The various zany antics that set the backdrop for this drama are hilarious in themselves, and there is a nice blend of humour and gravity to keep one attentive. The house, the gardens, the fashions are all splendid.
What the movie lacks is some greater theme or message; it's about a particular love story between a particular man and woman, but beyond that, one doesn't leave with anything more substantial. Nonetheless, it's a pleasure to watch.
If you like English culture, if you enjoy scintillating, witty repartee, then "Cheerful Weather" is sure to please. If you find the English upper crust snobby and boring, well, you might be better off staying away.
The two former lovers barely interact and you only discover that they were once in love by how frigid they become when the other's name is mentioned, or by the flashbacks that show how close they were several months ago. (Or in Felicity's case how strongly she tries to avoid him.)
The costumes are pretty enough and the characters are well developed, but what this tale lacks is emotion. And it's not the story's fault. The plot line is designed to keep you thinking and rooting for a specific outcome but it's the acting that fails to sell you this romance. There is no genuine chemistry between any two actors at all in this film and it takes it's toll. In the end instead of being broken hearted or happy for the characters you kind of just wished someone slapped them and told them how they could have solved their "Problems." Luke Treadaway's character elicits the least amount of sympathy from the viewer, as it seems that he is the author of his own misfortunes.
All of that notwithstanding, it's still a pretty good movie. Worth one viewing so that you can decide for yourself. 6/10
While I enjoyed it mildly overall, it is an easily forgettable movie.
Set in 1932 England, the opening sequence, of an old-fashioned press being set up to print invitations in gold lettering, is very interesting. Felicity Jones is Dolly Thatcham, and it is her wedding day. She is marrying a very nice man.
But Luke Treadaway as Joseph Patten shows up as a guest, and this has an upsetting effect on Dolly. It seems she doesn't want to come out of her room, and she "relaxes" by drinking rum from the bottle. Seemingly too much rum.
All of this is mysterious to us, the audience, but reasons are slowly revealed. They use the technique of parallel flashbacks, we see one or the other in a present (1932) scene, then in a somewhat older scene. They keep them obvious by using a slight blue cast for the present scenes and a slight yellow cast for the flashback scenes.
We slowly find that the issue is the love affair Dolly and Joseph had, when he decided he needed to travel abroad for an extended period. A young British woman in the 1930s could not wait too long, and she found a new man, and now she was marrying him.
So it is basically a story of love lost and moving on with one's life.
Elizabeth McGovern is Mrs. Thatcham , Dolly's mother, with her best fake British accent. I've always liked McGovern, but it seems a curious choice, given that it is not a major role and there are so many fine British actresses.
Director Donald Rice and writer Mary Henely-Magill have created a wonderful story about a collection of maybe stereotypical British characters gathered together at a grand country side estate for a wedding.
The bride, Dolly, realizes she's making a mistake to marry Luke because she still loves Joseph. Joseph shows up to hopefully rescue her from this mistake. But circumstance and the lack of courage in both leave both brokenhearted.
The house fills with silly and forceful characters that create a day of confusion and anger. This is a fun and thoughtful film for those who can tune into subdued British humor.
I loved all the characters and how they developed through others conversations. My favorite part was the flashbacks of the summer that Dolly and Joseph shared together, it was so innocent and light. Kitty (Dolly's sister)supported all the characters and she lightened the more serious conversations.
I thought the character development was strong, and there was a balance of strange, goofy and entertaining family members. Even though you only learn a little about each wedding guest and couple, you get a sense how each relationship is different.
I absolutely loved the setting (the entire movie takes place at Dolly's home) and of course the wardrobe of the 1930's. Dolly's wedding dress was stunning.
I highly recommend this movie.
It's nice to see the subtle anti-romance character traits of the two leads play out over the narrative, but it's more curiously interesting than it is intensely interesting. The sophomoric foreshadowing and symbolism feel extremely contrived and almost insulting. The scenes that should be amusing are not amusing. The cleverish storytelling isn't clever enough to make you want to care about anyone or what happens to them. And the big reveal isn't at all revelatory, but serves more as a device to unlock the grand mystery of why these people behave the way they do. Sad to say, the mystery isn't all that grand and the viewer is left with the bad taste of being inexpertly manipulated.
Maybe because I find the lead actress very unpleasant. She drank way to much and pretty much continuously. Never did really get who all the other people were, yes, a sister and a mother. Was the vicar the father? An annoying missionary guest. Assorted friends? Relatives?
My two stars go to the person(s) responsible for the selection of the house, the costumer, the overall period look which is achieved very nicely, including hairdos.
The viewer certainly understands the main points of the story. They don't have to be re-told over and over again, in flashbacks and from different characters. If these were real people I would not wish any of them well.
Here we are, a wedding about to begin with the brooding bride left completely to her owns devices, assorted eccentric relatives chit- chatting downstairs and a former lover (which is obvious from the start) driving everybody crazy including the viewer. The brewing situation is quite predictable, I fail to see the need for all concerned to be ever so dramatic about it. I do believe that the bride is the only one who has the right to it. It is her life that will be tied down to a happy-go-lucky guy who is either not very bright or doesn't care enough about her to take her pet on their journey to live on another continent.
This film is really atmospheric, the sets are beautiful as well as the costumes although I can't say the same for Felicity's hair (what were they thinking? It looks like a wig that's askew).
The jilted lover is quite a pathetic figure who keeps getting on everybody's nerves after foolishly attending a wedding of a former lover - an invitation to which he should have obviously refused. He does provide the most satisfying drama at the end and is quite pleasant to look at. Despite all that he is a pathetic figure of a man who explodes (I have to admit - not without outrageous provocation) and offloads his unwanted feelings onto a room of onlookers after failing to do anything about getting the woman he wanted. She might have broken his heart - but what has he done about it? Spending some time with her, dancing a bit, chasing her in a boat and having sex with her after she initiated does not a proposal make. He admits that he never wanted to marry her - so what did he want? This unnecessary self-important romantic aggravation makes him an unsympathetic character.
We are left with the aftermath of a storm in a teacup and a gleeful telephone conversation the newlywed's mother is having with one of her colourful relatives. And they were a sight indeed: an overly dramatic younger sister looking for high romance and finding it in the bushes, silly cousins with a lampshade, a vulgar aunt with a Hitler look- alike chauffeur, spoilt child of a bitter couple with a truly odd sense of marital happiness - all eccentric, sad and amusing in their own ways. My favourite character is the friend/cousin with beautiful hair, clothes, face and sensitivity that is completely at odds with everybody else. The one thing I can't understand is why the need to be so mean to that sad little aunt who gets put in the same room as the tall man - a priest uncle? She seems harmless and nowhere as annoying as the bride's mother or the vulgar aunt.
All in all, a comic, at times poignant and somewhat bleak portrayal of an upper class English family with wonderful cinematography.
What is not told is subtle between the lines: Dolly seems to be pregnant and is married with haste to the stand-in Tom Owen. But why invited Dolly Joseph, her summery adventure? He is not told of her assumed pregnancy and unable to do what a noble and gentle English should have done. But "time and tide waits not" is said and the blind servant, passing the glasshouse, sees everything. Joseph and Dolly where inseparable just past summer, up until he left for Greece. Tom Owen is in this British Victorian "Downton Abbey" of 1932 Josephs stand-in as second choice. Everybody is happy to take their part in this staged unhappy happiness.
"Are you?" "If you know it, it's too late" is said. The title "Cheerful Weather" focuses the sunny weather, but everything else is far beyond sunny cheerfulness. Has the stand-in Tom a deal? As in "The Day after the Fair". The pregnant illiterate maid Anna, helped by her mistress with the letter-writing to her lover she met at Salsbury fair. The cheated barrister accepts to marry Annas body, telling upper class Edith, the author of the letters: "Legally I marry Anna, in my heart I marry you."
"Do you feel less happy if you know you are happy?" is asked. "I 'wish' you could give me a reason to come with you." And the warning: "Be careful what you wish." No reason to run away. Tradition is stronger. Why invited Dolly her summer love to her wedding and does not see him? She upstairs. He downstairs. Neither she goes downstairs or he upstairs before it is too late and jump the fence of tradition. Waiting for the other to take the jump: unaware that nobody can take the decision to jump for the other. They see each other. Downstairs. In time or too late? Ready for the run?
Used to traditional happy ends - actually here: no happy end. We wait as we are used but it does not happen. Unable to witness the act in church he stays at him: should have been his wedding. But "circumstances intervene." But beyond circumstances and what is called destiny? Beyond tradition. Was this the reason that he was invited, waiting for him upstairs. Ready for the run.