The most recent offering from our local film industry is a warm hearted romantic comedy set on the Kapiti coast. It centres on the impending marriage of Cheryl Rose to her sweet heart Stew. What should be the happiest day of Cheryl’s life is complicated by her mother Jill’s compulsion for hunting down bargains. She fears that this will turn her wedding into a tacky exercise in cutting costs which will in turn ruin the day every little girl dreams of. When word of this filters back to Jill, the previously idyllic family relations are threatened and the wedding has a whole raft of new issues to overcome.
Second Hand Wedding is infused with a healthy dose of kiwiana that extends beyond antipodean accents and familiar iconography. The small town location where everyone knows everyone else’s business is well handled, serving not only as a backdrop for the story, but also as a key factor in the plot’s development. It’s a dramatic world where you find recognisable characters, true to the film’s neo-rustic atmosphere while still expressive of universal human traits and foibles.
That writer Nick Ward grew up in a place with such people is evident, as is the genuine affection he holds for this type of community. However, the most notable feature to emerge when perusing the crew list is that the director is Paul Murphy, son of Geoff who helmed kiwi films such as the classic Goodbye Pork Pie. This knowledge, plus the films earthy, down home qualities, makes you feel as though you are watching the next generation of local filmmakers in action.
My problem with the film is how low key it is. While this is a deliberate, and successful, attempt to avoid histrionics and melodrama, it also causes the whole film to feel a little flat. You can see where you’re supposed to laugh and cry, but most of the time the techniques employed to achieve this err too far on the side of subtlety. Because of this, Second Hand Wedding doesn’t linger long in the memory after the credits have rolled. Apart from the John Rowles cameo, of course.