Friday, July 17, 2020

A Simple Wedding: Movie Review

Fresh, joyful romantic comedy, consistently funny and heartwarming.
Movies that start with a break-up that look (at least to the audience if not some of the characters) like their relationship is turning a corner and moving onwards and upwards, always hook me in, especially if the humour catches you off-guard. It’s a good sign when romantic comedies are this funny from the opening scene. That’s how A Simple Wedding won me over, and it never lets up. I was laughing, laughing, crying, crying-laughing through the entire film. Let me back up and hopefully you’ll appreciate this film as much I do. 2018

Directed by: Sara Zandieh

Screenplay by: Sara Zandieh

Starring: Tara Grammy, Christopher O'Shea

It’s time for the parents to meet each other for Kamran and Nousha. But Nousha (Tara Grammy) unable to play the perfect future-daughter-in-law, embarrasses her parents, humiliates Kamran’s parents, and then his mother is dumping her for him. Nousha is devastated by the break-up until she remembers that she never actually liked him in the first place. Nousha is Iranian-American, and although I can’t speak to the realism of the Persian culture, the American attitudes were both funny and so true. However, I am confident in Iranian-American writer-director Sara Zandieh’s abilities to accurately reflect the Persian culture clashes between Nousha and her more strict parents.

The only problematic area of the film is back at Nousha’s work. While the lack of boundaries between co-workers is amusing, the importance of Nousha’s unclear job seems to be brushed aside in favour of more jokes. I’m all for more jokes in romantic comedies, especially when they’re funny, but it would have been nice to see how the protest against sexual assault and Nousha’s legal career in housing for minorities related to one another.

That protest elevates an already funny film into a very funny and romantic movie, the two crucial pillars of a romantic comedy. Because her friends thought it would be funny, Nousha is wearing an apron with a drawn on penis, and fellow protestor Alex (Christopher O’Shea) likes the boldness and starts flirting with her. Alex is perfect – a not-into-labels bisexual, a confident artist and DJ, well-read, intellectual, quick-witted and very good-looking. There’s no such thing as too perfect in romantic comedies; Nousha and I are in love.

Of course there is a problem, this is a romantic comedy after all, and a big problem at that – Alex is not Persian. He’s as American as they come – born and raised in California, attended a small arts college in Vermont, and he is *gasp* not an engineer. Nousha’s parents will hate him. Problem solved, just don’t tell them. Quickly moving along, past the familiar feelings of sitcom territory, the film knows where its heart lies: Nousha and Alex’s burgeoning romance, Nousha’s inclination to please her parents, her parents’ belief in their cultural traditions, and Alex’s earnest desire to fit into this family.

Nousha is face-to-face with her American desires up against her parents’ Persian ideals. This culture clash feels very fresh – it’s real and funny and never veers into the dramatic, and it also fits in perfectly with the standard rom-com trajectories.

A Simple Wedding just gets funnier and funnier and even when I was crying, I was still laughing. It’s inclusive, enlightening, feels real and down-to-Earth while at the same time being a genuinely fun and joyful rom-com. The cast is aces, look for superb turns from the two mothers Shohreh Aghdashloo and Rita Wilson, and the comedy stylings with Christopher O’Shea and Tara Grammy playing off of each other hilariously. There’s a Saddam Hussein and Andy Warhol joke that will probably keep me laughing for years.