If Nashville is ensemble Altman at its best – and it is – then A Wed ding is the other extreme. Altman’s loose, seemingly unstructured style backfires in this comedy-drama.
The title is self-descriptive: the picture is a day in the life of a wedding between the daughter of a nouveau rich southern family and the son of old midwestern money. The setting is rife with conventions – marriage, religion, wealth.
Unlike Nashville, the film lacks a core. Nothing builds; the characters, except for Lillian Gish as the old money matriarch and Mia Farrow as the silent sister of the bride, are uninteresting and unsympathetic. They pop in and out of the film and when they pop out, who cares if they return?
Altman’s idea of humor comes off as puerile and dated. John Cromwell plays a senile bishop who performs the wedding ceremony. He forgets how to conduct the service and is too near sighted to know that at one point he’s talking to a corpse. That’s hardly sharp edged satire.