MIFF2014: 112 Weddings

112 weddings 1The concept for 112 Weddings is so good that I’m surprised that this hasn’t been done many times before by others out there. After spending two decades sidelining as a wedding videographer to fund his career as a filmmaker, Doug Block has revisited some of the couples he has filmed in the past to see what has become of them since their wedding day. The end result is an interesting time capsule full of love stories and a life lesson wrapped into one. Despite lacking any in-depth insights, the film is shamelessly entertaining and it has successfully invoked tears and laughter from everyone in the audience. 112 Weddings is a bittersweet portrait of modern marriage and life after the ‘happily ever after’ moment on their wedding day, but the prevailing tone is more sweet than bitter.

Don’t let the title of the film deceive you. Even though it is called 112 Weddings, the film merely looks at nine of those couples. The number 112 is just the number of nuptials that Doug Block has worked on to date. Despite the small sample size, Block does try to some diversity within those that he surveyed.

112 weddings 2It is quite clever for Block to always introduce the couples through their wedding video. This allows the audience to witness the high of the couples’ romantic intoxication to suck us in and become invested in the story that they have to tell. The blissful high moments are nicely juxtaposed with the current day reflections as circumstances have turned marriage into something that none of these young couples could have imagined. Challenges arise from the impact of children, job problems, health problems, etc.

While it is easy to become invested in the stories that all the couples had to tell, it was far more interesting to watch how they reacted during these catch-up interviews. The body languages and what they choose to say (and what not to say) are simply fascinating. There’s one couple that just loves talking over each other while expressing the same point of view, as if they are truly two peas in a pod. Then there’s the Brooklyn hipster couple who sarcastically talk about the torture of raising a kid, but you can sense the real life strife behind their dry humour. It was also rather amusing to see another couple where the wife gleefully talks about moments of discord in the marriage while the husband squirms in embarrassment. People are such fascinating subjects!

112 weddings 3Through all this examination and all these years that have elapsed, no one can really explain why they chose to get married and why it worked or didn’t work. We all have an expectation of what marriage should be but it never turns out how we expected because there is more than a single person involved in a relationship. Just simply factoring a partner and kids into the picture, there are bound to be some bumps along the road. While the film does not have the best representation of all couples out there since it is merely a fraction of a sample size from middle class New York (which pretty much makes up Block’s clientele), the film does have a simple and profound message about marriage. It takes work and things will not be as perfect as the wedding day itself. Perhaps the best line from the documentary came from Doug Block’s friend, rabbi Jonathan Blake. “The wedding is the easiest day to make happy. You’ve just thrown a ton of money and liquor at it. Marriage is harder. When you thrown money and liquor at it, it makes it worse.”

Most of the couples that Block revisited are still together, but it is safe to assume that most of the ones that ended up in divorce probably didn’t want to air their dirty laundry on camera and declined to participate in the movie. The sample size is too small, which may undermine the general message from the movie due to the narrowness of the experience; however the film is neatly packaged. It has a pleasant undertone to it that allows all of us to relate to the couples and be touched by a more realistic look at romance or perhaps, the romance of realism.

Rating: B+

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