Monday, December 14, 2020

Movie with Abe: Sister of the Groom

Sister of the Groom
Directed by Amy Miller Gross
Released December 18, 2020 (Theaters and VOD)

It’s hard to find a wedding where every person is attendance is completely happy. The idea of a marriage ceremony is to celebrate the newlyweds and join in the joy that they feel at taking that big step towards spending their lives together. But there are many reasons that at least one person among those watching them exchange vows might not be quite as thrilled, including problems in their own love lives or a dislike of one member of the couple. Family dynamics can also complicate matters, especially if one partner is perceived as acting differently due to their being in that relationship.

Audrey (Alicia Silverstone) is turning forty and is not excited to be spending that big birthday attending the wedding of her younger brother Liam (Jake Hoffman), who has rescheduled the wedding so that he and his bride Clemence (Mathilde Ollivier) can get married on the Jewish Valentine’s Day. Arriving with her husband Ethan (Tom Everett Scott), Audrey meets Clemence for the first time and finds someone who is nothing like her and seems to have already changed her brother into someone subservient and pretentious, and things only devolve over the course of the weekend as Audrey continues to learn more about the influence of this younger French woman who has her brother under her spell.

This is hardly the first wedding comedy and also not the first to deal with a sibling who doesn’t approve of the nuptials. In this case, Audrey is older and already has kids, but she also carries a good deal of baggage – and a physical reminder in the form of scarring on her stomach – related to her age that is not helped by everything that Clemence is. Having the wedding at the former home of her father (Mark Blum) and late mother makes things worse, as the fragile consistencies on which Audrey could previously depend all seem to be slipping away at the same time.

This film’s premise, and its title, are rather straightforward, but there’s something that doesn’t quite work about its execution. Audrey comes in ready to be displeased, and the way in which the forceful Clemence and clueless Liam approach subjects that will surely upset her is at the very least inconsiderate. It’s difficult to feel sympathy towards any of the characters since they are all deeply flawed and generally unlikeable, which makes for an inaccessible and awkward viewing experience. There are moments of humor and warmth that emerge every once in a while, but overall there doesn’t seem to be a real direction for this moderately enjoyable assembly of characters.


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