×

Film Review: ‘112 Weddings’

Documentarian Doug Block turns to his own past as a wedding videographer for this enjoyable but thin survey of modern matrimony.

With:
Heather Dodge, Sam Dodge, Rachel Shapiro, Paul Shapiro, Jennifer Hyjack, Augie Alexander, Olivia Langbein, Dennis Langbein, Jodi Smart, Michael Smart, David Bromberg, Janice Caillet, Alexander Caillet, Yoonhee Roberts, Tom Roberts, Sue Odierna, Steve Odierna, Danielle Hark, Adam Hark, Galina Portnoym David Engwall, Anna Conlan, Erica Beckman, Jonathan Blake.

After spending two decades sidelining as a wedding videographer to fund his career as a filmmaker, Doug Block has turned his former vocation into its own documentary. “112 Weddings” (the number of nuptials he’s worked to date) checks in on a representative nine couples to see how the institution of matrimony has held up for them since they tied the knot. The widely relatable topic, various personal dramas and pleasant overall tone make this an easy watch, though those looking for a particularly deep or diverse treatment of the subject will need to keep looking. Pic opens theatrically throughout Canada on May 23 and in the U.K. in mid-June, with decent potential for sales to other territories in various formats.

Pic is narrated by Block, who recalls details of the original weddings (seen in video excerpts) as we’re serially introduced to former clients married anywhere from three to 19 years. The first duo are the least complicated; they’re so simpatico they incessantly talk over one another, as if their two voices now constitute a single p.o.v. Also making a humorous impression are two Brooklyn hipsters who semi-sarcastically note the “torture” of raising a child in a small one-bedroom apartment, though one senses some real strife behind the snark.

By contrast, there’s nothing funny about the East Village couple whose daughter was diagnosed with a terminal illness at age 3. Though she’s survived, her ongoing, painful treatments and health scares constitute a “living nightmare that never ends.” A genial African-American pair have had their own issues dealing with a child whose learning disabilities mean the highly educated wife has unhappily had to abandon a fulfilling career and remain a stay-at-home mom.

Two free spirits hired Block 13 years earlier to film their very New Age-y “partnership ceremony” — they’d viewed marriage as an archaic form of ownership, but in talking to the filmmaker, they now decide they’ll belatedly get hitched after all, as both a legal formality and a renewal of commitment. They are in turn contrasted with the very traditional-looking union of a Korean concert violinist and a stiffly composed WASP husband; he squirms in embarrassment whenever she hints at the routine reality of occasional marital discord.

Perhaps the most bizarre visit is with David, a walking pharmacy whose marriage to Janice (a no-show here) crumbled in the wake of his failed screenwriting ambitions and amusingly self-aware yet crippling mental health problems. A more ordinary if also more wrenching divorce occurs when, after nearly 20 years, Steve announces he’s leaving and already deep into an extramarital affair — devastating news to Sue, who’d staked everything on their domestic stability.

Some sense of narrative arc is provided by the countdown to young Heather and Sam’s upcoming nuptials in her home state of Montana. His anxiety at being on foreign ground reaches an apex when one family tradition has him facing a firing line of laconic menfolk who offer dry “advice” from personal experience. (By contrast, the bride’s equivalent female audience is giddily relaxed.)

These real-life mini-dramas are naturally involving. Yet despite the different problems that arise (and the brief presence of two partnered lesbians who are also wedding photographers), the couples here don’t feel especially diverse, consisting mostly of the white, middle-class New Yorkers who form Block’s client base. So there’s a certain narrowness of experience to “112 Weddings” that undermines its already rather tepid attempts to arrive at generalizations about the state of 21st-century marriage.

Result is more a series of entertaining parts than a substantial whole. But it’s smoothly assembled, with a solid tech package and lively pace.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: '112 Weddings'

Reviewed at Hot Docs Film Festival (Love, Factually), April 25, 2012. (Also in Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.) Running time: 95 MIN.    

Production: (Documentary) A Copacetic Pictures and Hard Working Movies production in association with HBO Documentary Films, ZDF, Arte and BBC. (World sales: Dogwoof Global, London.) Produced by Doug Block, Lori Cheatle.

Crew: Directed by Doug Block. Written by Block, Maeve O’Boyle. Camera (color, HD), Block; editor, O’Boyle; music, Jon Foy; sound, Otto Gain.

With: Heather Dodge, Sam Dodge, Rachel Shapiro, Paul Shapiro, Jennifer Hyjack, Augie Alexander, Olivia Langbein, Dennis Langbein, Jodi Smart, Michael Smart, David Bromberg, Janice Caillet, Alexander Caillet, Yoonhee Roberts, Tom Roberts, Sue Odierna, Steve Odierna, Danielle Hark, Adam Hark, Galina Portnoym David Engwall, Anna Conlan, Erica Beckman, Jonathan Blake.

More Film

  • Metro 2033

    Cult Sci-Fi Novel 'Metro 2033' to Be Adapted as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s TNT-Premier Studios Company, TV-3 Channel and Central Partnership Film Company – all part of Gazprom Media – have come together to produce a movie based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s sci-fi novel “Metro 2033,” which has also been adapted as a video game. Filming is due to start next year. The Russian premiere of the movie [...]

  • Beforeigners

    'Beforeigners’' Anne Bjornstad on HBO's First Norwegian Original Series

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  HBO Europe’s first Norwegian original series, which debuted Aug. 21 exclusively across HBO’s territories, has garnered rave reviews in the Norwegian press. It is also a perfect fit for HBO’s brand and goal to create bold, smart and author-driven shows. Produced by Endemol Shine’s Norwegian prodco Rubicon TV, “Beforeigners” is helmed by [...]

  • Refugees from the besieged Muslim enclave

    Sarajevo’s True Stories Market: Documenting the Atrocities of War

    Reconciliation and dealing with the tragedies of the Yugoslav Wars has been a major focus of the Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Industry Days event in recent years. The True Stories Market, launched in 2016, aims to connect filmmakers with organizations that are researching and documenting the Yugoslav Wars that spanned 1991 to 2001 [...]

  • Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

    Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ Wins Top Prize in Sarajevo

    “Take Me Somewhere Nice,” Bosnian director Ena Sendijarević’s coming-of-age story about a teen raised in the Netherlands who returns to Bosnia to visit her ailing father, won the top prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival Thursday night, earning the Amsterdam-based helmer the coveted Heart of Sarajevo Award. The jury heralded the “beautifully photographed, acted, scripted [...]

  • Khadar Ahmed - BUFO - photo

    Bufo Sets Key Cast for Co-Production ‘The Gravedigger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —   Actor Omar Abdi, who starred in the Ahmed-scripted short “Citizens,” and actress Yasmin Warsame, who made her name as a Canadian model, will topline romantic-tragedy “The Gravedigger,” the latest big screen project from Bufo, the Helsinki-based outfit behind Berlinale winner “The Other Side of Hope.” The film follows a Djibouti gravedigger [...]

  • Jacobs Ladder Movie 2019

    Film Review: 'Jacob's Ladder'

    It’s understandable that someone would want to remake “Jacob’s Ladder,” Adrian Lyne’s 1990 head-trip thriller about a Vietnam veteran haunted by fragmentary nightmare visions. I was far from alone in finding the original to be an overwrought but rather thin “psychological” horror film that was more punishing than pleasurable. And it wasn’t exactly a hit, [...]

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content