Nuit de noces
½*/**** Image B- Sound B Extras D+
starring François Morency, Geneviève Brouillette, Pierrette Robitaille, Jacques Girard
screenplay by Marc Brunet, Émile Gaudreault
directed by Émile Gaudreault
by Walter Chaw A film so precious and insipid that it hurts, Émile Gaudreault's screwball roundelay is an exercise in self-indulgence and cliché. Hailed as one of the best Canadian comedies in recent memory, Wedding Night (Nuit de noces) is a haphazard collection of slapstick, magic realism, sped-up Benny Hill interludes, dream sequences, absurdist wall-breaking, and terrifyingly trite musical cues (poor Bernard Herrmann is spinning in his grave). The film is a disaster, neither funny nor poignant nor observant of the poetics of love and marriage, a horror of malformed ideas and unearned moments. Who are these people? Why should we care about what happens to them?
Such questions are never answered by this, a film too interested in navel-gazing to spare a moment for a poor audience desperately wanting that ever-elusive suture to make their moviegoing experience a moderately meaningful one. That's too much to ask: I would've been satisfied had the picture resisted a couple of comic vomit scenes or turning black women and homosexuals into objects of politely paternal amusement--not to mention the classic "we switched cell phones" meet-cute.
Nicolas (François Morency) and Florence (Geneviève Brouillette), the cute-meeters in question, get engaged, go to Niagara Falls with their quirky families in irritating tow, break up, get back together, break up, get back together, and break up before getting back together again. Meanwhile, the slutty fat friend, the eccentric gay couple, and the seemingly perfect husband and wife hiding a mortal rift do their strutting and fretting to little effect. Narrating the film in that irreverent soliloquy-style that sinks films far better than this, Florence's unspeakable sister Claire (Pierrette Robitaille) dispenses nuggets of wisdom while fussing and wailing around like harried poultry desperately asking to become dinner. Any question as to whether things will turn out all right is answered by the film's predictably unimaginative title.
Wedding Night made me ponder giving myself a concussion as it stimulated the attendant nausea and pounding headache. It's possible that some people may find what is essentially Duck Soup as performed by your local dinner theatre troupe an amusing diversion, but I found it to be insufferably smug and legendarily unfunny. The only thing that could possibly be said in its defence is that it's too inept to be overly offensive (the subtitles translate "penis" as "weenie"); a falling-in-love-again music video montage, however, came perilously close to being offensive anyway. Wedding Night is somehow worse than a Nora Ephron movie while suffering much of the same saccharine affectation: Gaudreault's direction is as restless and itchy as his screenplay (co-written with Marc Brunet)--his is a farce without timing and rhythm making it a fiasco of the first water.
Séville's import DVD presents Wedding Night in a somewhat soft 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is over-bright in a few of its daytime scenes, creating a halo of light around the characters that ultimately proves to be distracting. There's not much edge enhancement, but owing to its contrast problems the black and shadow levels are predictably off. The Dolby Digital 5.1 French track is crystal clear, making nice use of the right and left channels and reproducing its shrill dialogue exchanges with a lamentable degree of fidelity. Owing to the film's nature, there is little work for the surrounds and rumbler. A badly edited (if no worse than the movie itself) trailer, a teaser, a TV spot, and seven deleted scenes (or outtakes) that are sans subtitle round out the disc. They don't appear to be important, though unable to speak Canadian French, I can't be certain. Originally published: March 31, 2002.