Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—A Wedding (1978) ***

PG, 125 min.
Director: Robert Altman
Writers: Robert Altman, John Considine, Patricia Resnick, Allan Nichols
Starring: Carol Burnett, Paul Dooley, Amy Stryker, Mia Farrow, Dennis Christopher, Gerald Busby, Peggy Ann Garner, Mark R. Deming, Mary Seibel, Margaret Ladd, Leslie Rogers, Timothy Thomerson, Marta Heflin, Lillian Gish, Nina Van Pallandt, Vittorio Gassman, Desi Arnaz Jr., Belita Moreno, Dina Merrill, Pat McCormick, Virginia Vestoff, Howard Duff, Ruth Nelson, Ann Ryerson, Craig Richard Nelson, John Cromwell, Luigi Prioetti, Geraldine Chaplin, John Considine, Lauren Hutton, Beverly Ross, Patricia Resnick, Margery Bond, Cedric Scott, Pam Dawber, Gavan O’Herlihy

“A Wedding” is just about the perfect Robert Altman subject. No other event lends itself so well to his writing and directing styles. From the ritual of the religious ceremony to the crowds of guest who all have their separate agendas, Altman couldn’t have picked a better setting for his 1978 film.

“A Wedding” is fairly minor Altman when all is said and done, but it is still a good example of his work. He doesn’t have any trouble interjecting drama into his wedding day examination. He actually goes a little overboard with all the secrets that are revealed and all the people who are hurt by them, from the groom possibly impregnating the bride’s sister to the Best Man failing to even make it to the ceremony. If anything, no matter how poorly your own wedding day festivities were, this movie will make you feel like they could’ve gone worse.

What always amazes me about any Altman project is the fact that his use of such large casts never seems to suffer from insufficient character development. Most directors have to fall back upon archetypes and character clichés in order to pull off casts even only approaching the size of the one Altman employs here. Somehow all of Altman’s characters are rich with life and suggest depths that need not be explored, but are there all the same.

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