Trinha da Cunha – a tiny volcanic island some 2.8km off South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope – is officially the most remote spot on earth. Around 270 people live on this archipelago, and they’re pretty much cut off from the rest of the world: indeed, they only see a mail ship once a year.
Like I say, it’s remote AF. And yet I still very much suspect that each and every single one of the island’s inhabitants has seen Richard Curtis’ Four Weddings and a Funeral at some point in their lives. Because it’s that kind of film, isn’t it? A sort of… well, a sort of rite of passage. And one which everyone has to go through in order to receive proof of their existence, which comes in the form of that all-important “I’m a real human being” badge (invisible to the naked eye, but very much noticeable to all who come across it).
For 30 years, I have lived my life without such a badge. Until now, that is.
If you’ve ever lived through life having missed out on a huge pop culture moment (I know you’re out there, people who decided not to watch HBO’s Game of Thrones), you’ll know what it’s like when everyone finds out.
“Oh my god,” they screech, staring at you as if they have no idea who you are. As if, right up until this moment, you’ve been lying to them about your true identity. As if you’ve just shed your skin to unveil the lurid green scales hidden underneath, and you’re just an alien, standing in front of a carbon-based humanoid, asking them to love you (see, I’ve watched some rom-coms!). “What do you MEAN you haven’t seen Four Weddings? HOW?!”
What do I mean? I mean that I’ve never sat down and watched Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell’s movie of love, life and death. How have I never seen it? I’ve no clue, to be honest. My entire network of friends and family has seen Four Weddings, including my younger sister – so I can only assume that she and my parents did so together in secret, creeping downstairs to gather round the living room’s television set under cover of darkness while I was asleep. The traitors.
These answers – honestly given, as I bluster and bluff my way through a conversation – are simple. But they’re never enough to alleviate the tension, because I’m here to tell you that people treat you differently when they learn you’ve not seen Four Weddings. You’ll catch them staring at you for no reason, as if they’re trying to suss you out. They subtly probe you, in a bid to find out just how much of a weirdo you really are (“but have you seen Love Actually? Grease? Dirty Dancing? YOU HAVEN’T SEEN DIRTY DANCING?!”). They start making odd little comments and inside jokes about the film, bookending them with the words, “sorry – that’s a Four Weddings reference, by the way”.
And you know what? I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the judgement, I’m sick of constantly having to think up excuses, I’m sick of pretending I know what people mean when they bang on about that iconic Four Weddings scene – the “one with all the clocks”.
So, when Netflix politely suggested I give Four Weddings a go (clearly it’s in cahoots with my colleagues), I decided the time was right to patch over this gaping hole in my rom-com knowledge.
It proved an interesting experience. So, without any further ado, here are the 33 thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral for the first time.
1. Ah, here we go. It wouldn’t be a Richard Curtis film without a floppy-haired Hugh Grant spluttering the words “fuck” and “bollocks” over and over again in his charming Etonian accent now, would it?
2. Where do I know the bride from? She’s just… she’s just so familiar. It’s snagging on a memory in my brain and… wait. It’s the lady from the Philadelphia advert! It’s the lady from the Philadelphia advert! THE BRIDE IS THE LADY FROM THE PHILADELPHIA ADVERT!!!
3. He forgot the rings. Of course he did. Maybe Hugh isn’t in this movie for as long as I thought and he gets murdered almost immediately, eh?
4. Nope, the bride and groom seem super chill about those gaudy novelty rings. Because love is more important and we feel it in our fingers and our toes, no matter what our jewellery looks like. Richard Curtis is such a bloody romantic, isn’t he?
5. Based on what little I’ve gleaned from Buzzfeed articles and the like, someone is going to get killed at some point – and the murder weapon of choice is a… clock?
6. There aren’t enough rom-com murder mysteries in the world, to be honest. It’s a pretty unique format and I am HERE for it.
7. Aha, Andie MacDowell and her extravagant hat are giving me serious Villanelle vibes. It may be too early to call it, but something about her is seriously off. She’s stilted, she’s glamorous, and she’s a little inhuman. She’s like the 90s equivalent of Jodie Comer’s ‘manic pixie dream assassin’.
8. Omg I think I’m 100% right on this, you know. I bet charming her way into a wedding, seducing a floppy-haired groomsmen, and skulking around an abandoned country hotel with a heavy clock to hand is just all in a day’s work for Andie. Someone should warn Hugh… although maybe he’ll figure things out for himself after that awkward ‘the morning after the night before’ request.
9. Phew. One wedding down, and everyone is still alive and in good health. This is TENSE AF!
10. Wedding number two, and here comes Stella from EastEnders. Fingers crossed this wedding ends on a happier note than her and Phil Mitchell’s short-lived marriage, eh?
11. Here’s Mr Bean in religious garb – and I sense he’s going to do what he does best in Richard Curtis films and inadvertently fuck up someone’s day with an overdose of earnestness.
12. Andie is already engaged? How long is the time period is between each of these weddings? Is it… weeks? Months? A year? Is it one wedding per year? I need answers, damn it!
13. OK, I’ve googled it. This wedding is taking place just three months after the first one – which means Bernard and Stella, who literally MET AT THAT FIRST WEDDING, managed to start dating, get engaged and plan a wedding within the space of 12 short weeks. Someone give those guys a medal. How they managed to get everyone’s dietary requirements to the caterers – and a last-minute church/hotel booking – is beyond the realms of comprehension.
14. Wait. This means that Andie has flown back to America “for good” and back again, with a new fiancé, in the space of three months as well. She’s a spy. She’s absolutely a spy. And she’s so going to kill someone as part of her secret mission, I just need to figure out who…
15. Side-note: diversity clearly wasn’t a big deal back in the 90s when it came to casting. But hats off to Richard Curtis for hiring a deaf actor to play David – and for having him and Hugh use sign language throughout their interactions in the movie. Now that’s the sort of visibility we like to see!
16. Ugh. I think we’ve all been Henrietta at least once in our lives, haven’t we?
17. “Oh no, another wedding invitation” – this film is honestly such a mood.
18. So Hugh is helping Andie buy a wedding dress from the shop that only sells ugly wedding dresses, and now they’re having tea, and now he’s confessing his undying love to her. Life moves pretty fast in a Richard Curtis movie, doesn’t it?
19. He’s going to Scotland. He’s going to Scotland to attend the wedding of a woman he met five months ago, slept with twice, went shopping with once, and whom he is burning with unrequited lust for. Excellent. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF, HUGH? Honestly, save your money and enjoy a weekend at home – turn off the alarm clocks and treat yourself to a lie-in, maybe. Because this is just silly.
20. Gareth is literally the best wedding guest ever, isn’t he? I’d definitely want to be on his table – he’s a bloody legend.
21. Don’t do it, Kristin Scott Thomas.
22. WHAT DID I JUST SAY, KRISTIN?!
23. Yeah, fine. We’ve all been Kristin at least once in our lives as well. But she can do infinitely better than this idiot (no offence, Hugh).
24. There’s a weird vibe in the air at this wedding – kind of like there was at Joffrey and Margaery’s ‘do in Game of Thrones, and we all know how THAT turned out. Maybe this is when Andie bumps off her husband? After being requested to so by the CIA’s equivalent of Judi Dench’s character in Skyfall? I’m keeping an eye on his wineglass…
26. Oh fuck.
27. So nobody got murdered, except for my heart (“stop the clocks” is the clock scene everyone was banging on about, I guess!). Genuinely devastated. I loved Gareth, and I loved his relationship with John Hannah, and I loved that we got a really good LGBT romance for once in a rom-com. And now he’s dead, and John Hannah’s reading poetry, and everyone’s crying, and I’m crying.
28. And now Hugh Grant is getting married? The serial monogamist who falls in love with women he barely knows in the blink of an eye? TO WHO? Surely not Kristin?
29. Oh no, it’s poor old Duckface. Well, we know this isn’t going to end well for anyone…
30. David stopping the wedding and delivering that brilliant speech – in SIGN LANGUAGE – is genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever seen.
31. Other than that punch to the face, obviously. Ouch.
32. Oh god, this scene in the rain. I’m not going to name any names, but a rumoured assassin did commit murder… of poor old Richard Curtis’ script. Some of these line deliveries are dire, aren’t they?
33. I bloody love a ‘where are they now?’ segment – it’s just like an episode of First Dates! Henrietta seems happy, David found love, Scarlett (my icon) did a sort of budget British version of a Las Vegas elopement – with obligatory white rhinestone-studded cowgirl hat – because she’s fucking awesome.
Tom marries his cousin (because there’s nothing like a dash of incest to lighten the mood, eh?) and John Hannah seems to have found love again. So that’s nice. And I guess Andie gives up her job as an international spy to live happily ever after with Hugh and their new baby, no wedding rings required.
But Kristin and Prince Charles? No, nay and never. Although please do take a moment to imagine how different the world would look if such a union had happened…
All in all, I liked Four Weddings a lot more than I thought I was going to. It feels fresh, and modern, and relevant – and it has all the hallmarks of a good rom-com weddings, unfortunate hats, attractive actors, light angst, and a suitably schmaltzy ending. Plus, I once attended seven weddings AND a funeral in a single year, so I feel I was destined to relate to this flick in a very real way.
More important, though? Now I have the context, I’m now STOKED for Mindy Kaling’s upcoming Four Weddings reboot.
Bring. It. On.
Images: Rex Features