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Sunday, June 11, 2017

THE WEDDING PARTY -- Movie Review by Porfle

I've heard of movies that were shot all in one single take, but I've never seen one until now. THE WEDDING PARTY (Candy Factory Films, 2016), bless its adventuresome little heart, starts when it starts and ends when it ends, all in one glorious, impossibly extended camera shot.  And yes, it's just as amazing as you might think.

The story is a simple ensemble comedy about an outdoor post-wedding party in which the bride and groom's friends, all verging on middle age but dealing with the same relationships and hangups they've had since high school, interact in ways both humorous and touching. 

Revelations are made--the class horndog is really kind of lonely, the clown has a heart beneath his clumsy exterior, the Miss Perfect type is really Miss Messed-Up, and so on.  Bride and groom have the usual lingering doubts about what they've just gotten into, while the event gives their friends pause to assess their lives thus far.

The groom's best friend Jim (Blake Lee) and the bride's best friend Alex (Allison Paige) are enlisted to hold everything together on the fly when the wedding planner goes boobs-up after an accidental overdose of nerve pills, and it's their frantic attempt to avert various disasters (such as a cake-bakers' strike) while nursing their own tentative romance that makes for what turns out to be a fairly engaging story that becomes warmer and more comfortable as we settle into it.

That said, the thing that really makes me sit up straight and take extra special notice of THE WEDDING PARTY is that one-take thing.  I'm talking approximately one hour and fifty-seven minutes between the time writer and first-time director Thane Economou, in an utterly dazzling feature debut, said "Action!" to the final "Cut!", with nary a gaffe, miscue, blown line, or act of nature to mar a single moment of it. 

The action all takes place in a house and a backyard, all choreographed in what appears to be a singularly prodigious feat of cinematic stagecraft.  It must've been fascinating watching actors, steadicam operator, and crew all moving in balletic conjunction from one setting and vignette to the next, and we can imagine that during each pause for dialogue there's a bustle of activity behind the camera as everyone scurries to get ready for the focus to swing around to them. 

As the crew do their jobs with clockwork efficiency, we're impressed by how smoothly the actors perform their intricate exchanges and bits of business--it's as though they're been performing this script on stage for so long that it's become second nature to them.

It's a good story and would've been enough to hold our interest under normal conditions, but as executed here, what we see unfoldling before the roving camera is often nothing short of astonishing. 

Performances, needless to say, are top-notch from everyone involved, from the leads right down to the bit players.  The story twists and turns itself in predictable but pleasing ways, and for the most part both the lighthearted comedy and the more heartfelt moments work.  But the effect of all this is  amplified, and unavoidably overshadowed, by the fact that we're witnessing a superbly rendered technical marvel the entire time. 

Even Hitchcock got to stop every ten minutes or so to reload his film cameras when he crafted ROPE out of a series of unbroken takes linked by hidden edits.  With THE WEDDING PARTY, an above-average but rather innocuous coming-of-middle-age comedy-drama ventures boldly beyond even that feat of filmmaking to become something wonderfully, exhilaratingly unique. I wish I could have been there to give them a standing ovation when it was done.

Type: DVD//Digital HD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play) 
Running Time:119 mins.
Rating:  N/A
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1
Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound

Coming to DVD ($14.99) and Digital HD on Platforms Including iTunes, Amazon and Google Play

Street Date: June 13, 2017


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