I hate to use the phrase, but I can't get away from it. The Wedding Gift is a cute movie. It's this "cuteness" that makes it enjoyable, but it's also what makes this film fail to deliver the necessary emotion.
Set in England in 1984 and based on a true story (and two books, "Diana's Story" and "Lost for Words" by Deric Longden), The Wedding Gift is the tale not only of Diana Longden (Julie Walters) but also of her husband, Deric (Jim Broadbent). Diana suffers from an incurable disease that nearly cripples her. She has blackouts. Her hands curl into hooks. Her bones shatter easily. But no matter how many times they visit the doctor, no one knows the answer. What's worse, the doctors are not willing to share with her their findings.
The Longdens are a couple who get by with the love they share for one another. Together, they laugh at the things that would make most people cry in despair. She teases and discusses her death, but they make light of it. Sure, it seems inevitable, but with their love and good thoughts, they feel they can get through anything. And let's face it, their relationship is cute. Cuddly. The type of stuff that makes me want to hug my girlfriend and think of growing old together, sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch.
This is all fine until the story turns a little darker. Or rather, should turn a little darker. Once Diana's illness begins to get the better of her, this cute, cuddly tone kept me from feeling the stronger emotions necessary for me to be tied to the characters and the events that occur. Diana's goal is to live long enough to see her son (Andrew Lancel) get married and to walk down the aisle at his wedding, something the wheelchair-bound woman struggles to do. I wanted to feel triumphant. I wanted to feel a pang of sadness. Unfortunately, I couldn't.
Although it's based on a true story, I didn't quite believe some of the events that took place. For example, a bulk of the story revolves around Deric's meeting of Aileen (Sian Thomas), a blind novelist who he falls for, yet doesn't fall for because the love he feels for his wife is too strong. But Diana wants to see her husband happy, so she contacts Aileen and they become friends. It's readily apparent Diana wants Deric to be with Aileen when she dies, that way she knows he'll always be happy. To me, there wasn't quite enough real emotion to make me understand and accept this turn of events.
Just because I didn't feel a strong emotional tie to this film, doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I did. It was a light, cute film about a couple dealing with a crippling disease (which was later diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome). It's enjoyable, just not as powerful as I would have expected, considering the subject matter.
Miramax presents The Wedding Gift in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There are a few problems with this transfer, but overall the piece looks nice, particularly considering it's a low-budget production. Skin tones look good, and although the colors are muted throughout, I believe they match the director's intent. The image isn't particularly crisp and detailed, but neither is it soft. This actually gives it a gentle texture that matches the tone of the film.
The downside to this softness is that the picture often has some graininess to it, particularly in darker scenes. Scratches and specks are evident occasionally as well. All in all, it's an adequate presentation.
The audio is similar to the video presentation. It's not great, but it's adequate. The 2.0 track offers crisp and clean dialog, which is key to this film. There isn't much movement between the left and right channels, and there aren't many sounds that would make your system get a good workout. In other words, it gets the job done but not much more.
THE BONUS FEATURES
All you get here are three trailers for Rabbit-Proof Fence, Pinocchio, and a grouping of Miramax hits.
The Wedding Gift is a cute film that doesn't actually attain the level of emotion necessary for the subject matter. I wasn't ready for the nature of the climax, and because of this, I didn't "feel" enough to make the events memorable. However, that doesn't mean it's not worth at least a rental, I just don't recommend plucking down $20 if you're not already a fan of the film.