Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Royal Wedding, BBC Two

A bit after the event, here's a review of The Royal Wedding that I wrote for Orange the other day.

I was quite disappointed in it, given Abi Morgan's previous work. Like I say below, it never really seemed to catch light, and the final 'confrontation' between Linda and Sherry (the wife of the bloke Linda is having an affair with) was distinctly anti-climactic. 
The shooting style was also a bit off-putting. It had that lovely hazy air of nostalgia, but after a while it became a bit soporific. Anyway...

Last night's The Royal Wedding, scripted by BAFTA-winner Abi Morgan, stuffed us in the time machine and flung us back to 1981, when The Man tried to take our minds off the crumbling state of the nation and the horrors of Thatcherism by throwing together the ill-fated marriage of Charles and Diana. 

The film followed the celebrations in a Welsh village, focusing on the dilemma facing factory worker Linda Caddock (Jodie Whittaker): should she stay with her husband Johnny (Darren Boyd), a lazy musician who still dreams of making it big, or run away with her lover, the unpopular factory boss Alan (Alun Raglan)?

As the day developed and Alan and Linda's affair was discovered, we saw the effect it had on Johnny, Alan's monstrous wife Sherry (Sarah Hadland) and – particularly – Linda's sensitive daughter Tammy (Gwyneth Keyworth), who was captivated by the royal wedding and desperately wanted to believe in fairytale marriages.

The cast and production were all first-rate, but the drama seemed to smoulder a bit without quite catching fire. Maybe the lazy, hazy summer atmosphere was a bit too effective; at times I wanted it to get a strong coffee down it and perk up. Some of it was also a bit over-familiar; it seems you can't have a drama in a provincial working-class community without feisty, sharp-tongued put-upon women and feckless, useless blokes. 

Despite these flaws, Jodie Whittaker filled the screen with wounded fragility as the trapped Linda, while newcomer Gwyneth Keyworth was moving as the daughter who has her innocence and illusions shattered. Elsewhere, Rebecca Stanton was criminally underused as factory agitator Bev, whose "problem" is fairly obvious from the outset and who's pretty much shunted into the background for the bulk of the drama. 

In the end, the film fizzled out, rather than reaching a dramatic climax. It became clear in the closing montage that Linda had made a decision when we saw her happily handing a flower to a copper at Greenham Common, and Tammy (now a goth, with her new boyfriend) and Johnny (who'd cut his hair and become a dope farmer) seemed content enough without her. So all's well that ends well, eh?

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