I like to think of myself as a champion of first time feature filmmakers. It’s not that short films are easy to conceive of or create. But to tackle one’s first feature film is a Herculean task. It is an undertaking filled with blood, sweat and all too many tears. While in no way do I anticipate screening a first time feature with a sense of mediocrity, rather I am far more forgiving of roughness around the edges or the inevitable consequences of a constrained budget. I stark contract to so many first time features, THE WEDDING INVITATION, the first feature film written by, directed by and starring Rainy Kerwin, is such a delight that I hardly know where to begin.
Kerwin has taken on the difficult trifecta of writing/directing/starring, and has created a film that is charming, authentic, legitimately funny and one which every woman, in one way or another, will identify with. When I hear the phrase “chick flick” it makes me want to run screaming to the first dive bar I can find and drink something manly. All to often films about women aimed at women are formulaic, unintelligent and demeaning. In the recent past I have mercifully found a few which have broken that pattern and THE WEDDING INVITATION is among them.
Kerwin plays Lucy, a pretty, approachable and pathologically organized woman who has been in a relationship with her boss for the last three years. Her home and work space are shingled with a collage of different colored post-it notes, color coded by task, goal or inspirational message.When things don’t go as Lucy anticipates with her boss, professionally or personally, she is thrown into a maelstrom which is quickly made more lethal by her apparent exclusion from the wedding of the year. Her two best friends, Ryann and Nectar, played brilliantly by Camille Guaty and Christina Ulloa respectively, have received their invitations and are burning with feverish excitement to attend the wedding of the coolest prom queen from their high school class. After twists and turns, drunken outbursts, and a sprinkling of wonderful supporting characters, the three women challenge themselves to invite ‘hot’ dates for the wedding within a four day period.
Keriwn’s screenplay is not just believable, it is endearing. As a character prone to bows and bright colors, she pulls off a convincing mix of girlish propriety with modern attitude. Her running dialogue of ‘law of attraction’ mantras is hilarious and never redundant. Guaty and Ulloa are well crafted and multi-dimensional characters. Guaty in particular has enviable comedic timing and is such an ‘every-woman’ that you will identify with her throughout the film. The humor is smart with gestures that reveal so much of what women do when no one is looking. Pay close attention to what Lucy does when she finally does locate her invitation. The three women expose their insecurities, their deepest needs and dreams in the intimate way that close female friends do. All too often in film, I feel those scenes of insight to be belittling of women; I am embarrassed for them instead as opposed to being them. IN THE WEDDING INVITATION you laugh at yourself as you laugh with the characters.
The wedding of the year has a 1980’s theme and the cinematography by Alicia Robbins and art direction by Katie Dulleakellegrew work seamlessly to cast a saturated, somewhat day-glo palette o through the entire film. It is refreshing and visually reinforces the focus of the film. I will admit to being a high school graduate of the ’80s, and there are scenes involving clothing that practically gave me a PTSD shoulder-pad flashback! The supporting cast is excellent and while the film centers on the women it in no way minimizes the male characters to one-dimensional stereotypes. On the contrary, you love all the men, save for one, because they are whole. They are also exceptionally cute. The charcters are well rounded full people and kudos to Kerwin for being able to give us them in a tidy 90 minutes which never drags or bores. THE WEDDING INVITATION is an exceedingly well made, well written, well acted film. It is also clearly a film made with joy and that shines through even the most terrifying 1980s outfit.(4 / 5)
Director: Rainey Kerwin
Cast: Rainey Kerwin, Camille Guaty, Christina Ulloa, Eoin Macken, Nick George, Alex Sanborn
Running Time: 90 minutes
Make sure to read my interview with filmmaker, write and star of THE WEDDING INVITATION Rainy Kerwin here!
THE WEDDING INVITATION Movie Review