Happy Ever Afters
Facts and Figures
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th December 2009
Distributed by: Newgrange Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
IMDB: 5.6 / 10
Happy Ever Afters Review
On the same day that Maura (Hawkins) is marrying Wilson (Bakare) so he can get his visa, Freddie (Riley) is remarrying his ex-wife Sophie (Yourell). And both are holding their receptions at the same seaside hotel, where things quickly start getting complicated. As Maura's 9-year-old daughter Molly (Maquire) begins to understand that this isn't a real marriage, the hyper-jealous Sophie randomly starts to think that Freddie and Maura are having an affair. And things get worse when a couple of immigration cops (McElhatton and Pearse) start snooping around.
Writer-director Burke opens the film with playfully entwined editing that completely misleads us until he starts unravelling the knots to show us these two distinct wedding parties, each with its own issues and stresses. Of course, the fact that the reception venue is double-booked causes plenty of panic, which is quickly resolved so the plot can start churning through its slapstick comedy, strained emotion and even some rather dark drama. The problem is that, even though it's energetic and silly, it's also extremely predictable.
And the characters only barely rise above stereotypes. Hawkins is a blast of fresh air at the centre, whirling through each scene with a realistic sense of Maura's desperation as well as an openness to what life throws at her. Her scenes with Maguire are the film's most authentic moments. Meanwhile, Riley is enjoyable flustered as the oddly pudgy-nervous Freddie. Virtually everyone else is a comedy stereotype.
But as their mixed-up situation gets increasingly messy, the film only gets more predictable. It also feels badly stretched out through side-plots including Sophie's madcap escape and an eerily bleak suicide attempt. And the build-up to the rather ludicrous climax feels both belaboured and simplistic.
Even so, it's possible to sit back and enjoy the chaos of these two disastrous weddings, even if it all ends in a bizarrely blunt anti-marriage message.