Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Jake Hoffman, Mathilde Ollivier
Director: Amy Miller Gross
Distributor: Saban Films
“Can you believe Liam gave Clemence mum’s ring?!”
Here, we have a story with nuances of jealousy, regret and a midlife crisis, all during the week of a wedding. Alicia Silverstone – with her best performance in 25 years – is Audrey, the sister of the groom in the appropriately titled, Sister of the Groom.
Approaching her 40th birthday, Audrey and husband Ethan (Tom Everett Scott) travel down from New York for the wedding of her “twin” brother Liam and his fiancée, Clemence, played by Jake Hoffman and Mathilde Ollivier respectively. After an excruciatingly awkward family meal, tensions are established, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The reintroduction of an ex-boyfriend, family betrayal, plus drink and drugs, all mix together for a lethal cocktail made personally for Audrey.
Subsequently, we are not presented with the typical wicked mother in-law, but instead, we have the wicked sister in-law to be. But is the wickedness justified? Audrey has, essentially, engaged with a perfect storm during a sensitive period of her life. Her husband Ethan provides great support, but even he has his own unfair and selfish expectations of his wife. Audrey just wants everything to be right, but like any good wedding drama, she is faced with obstacle after obstacle in both her quest of overcoming her dismay…and ruining her brother’s wedding.
Of the ensemble cast, it is the performances of its two female stars – Alicia Silverstone and Mathilde Ollivier – which stand out as the diamonds on the ring of this wedding film. Their characters and performances completely oppositional, yet magnificent, they often exist as points of recognition for one another. Audrey jealously sees Clemence as how she used to be: young, beautiful and pre-children. Clemence, with fear, anticipates a potential future for herself when she sees Audrey: middle age, a sexless marriage, and body dismorphia. Sister of the Groom could very be retitled as Clash of the Titans.
In Sister of the Groom, the marriage concept of a Jew marrying into a French family – with the fiancé considerably her senior – works perfectly with great results. In avoidance of traditional Christian weddings, there is an automatic freshness going into this story. Thankfully, no tacky cliches are present either. Though dubbed as a comedy, Sister of the Groom is instead more readable as a midlife drama or even a character study with comedic ambiances here and there. The comedic elements and occurances have great variances in vulgarity. Some of the most outrageous vulgarity – most of which is sexualised – does in fact come from the low-brow comedics of the father of the bride, Philibert (Ronald Guttman). He takes sleaze to another level.
Produced through the creative vision of writer-director Amy Miller Gross, Sister of the Groom is a fantastic showcase of instances, characters and stories of which many a viewer can find relatable and applicable. This wedding-based film presents a successful mixture of female character study and ensemble-based concept comedy. Unlike many weddings and marriages, Sister of the Groom isn’t a disaster.
Many thanks to Saban Films for the pleasure of this film.
This article’s featured image: By Source, Saban Films, Fair Use https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9222438/mediaviewer/rm1061281281/