Sour Icelandic comedy “White Night Wedding” provides few laughs and less rooting value as a middle-aged academic and his much younger fiancee count down the hours to a ceremony they’re right to have second thoughts about. Flashbacks to the groom’s prior union with an unstable artist only add more discord, if little depth, to a movie that aims for cranky humor but comes off as cynically unappealing instead. Though a home-turf hit, this lesser effort for Baltasar Kormakur (“101 Reykjavik,” “The Sea”) will find spotty exposure abroad.
Primary thread in a story inspired by Chekhov’s “Ivanov” charts 24 hours leading to planned nuptials between widower Jon (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) and former student Thora (Laufey Eliasdottir) on north-coast island Flatey. Nearly everyone — particularly her money-obsessed mother (Olafia Hronn Jonsdottir) and the local reverend (co-scenarist Olafur Egill Egilsson) — thinks the marriage is a bad idea, as do the intendeds themselves. Thora wants to rescue Jon, but he fears he’s using her to escape the lingering bad vibes of a manic-depressive late wife (Margret Vilhjalmsdottir). Despite various drunken wedding-party antics and histrionics, levity, poignancy and insight all fall short. Presentation is polished.