on September 15, 2006 by Bridget Byrne
"Confetti" is a really good giggle. A completely improvised mock documentary, this British comedy uses skilled actors to portray three couples hoping their fantasy themed wedding will win a competition staged by a glam wedding magazine.

Tossed into play with the abandon with which confetti is chucked, the actors do a wonderful job of creating viable characters, amusing situations and, best of all, genuine feelings. Although poking fun at the absurdities of the expense, both financial and emotional, that many couples pour in to staging their nuptials, the film always retains a deep affection for and belief in love and romance, however foolish and misguided the pathway taken to try to create a ceremony and celebration that symbolizes its truth.

An amusing and appealing ensemble--some actors more familiar than others--play the couples, their friends, relatives and acquaintances, the magazine editors, and the wedding planners. Martin Freeman (the British "Office") and Jessica Stevenson are utterly real as an ordinary duo with showbiz dreams, whose efforts to exchange vows in a Busby Berkeley-style musical are hampered by their own clumsy physicality and off-key voices, as well as her overpowering mom (Alison Steadman the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice) and pushy sister and his heavy metal rock and rapper best man. Stephen Mangan and Meredith MacNeill don't fear to be unlovable as highly competitive egotists, whose attempt to play out a tennis-themed wedding are stymied by their own overweening ambitions, the shape of her nose and a handsome tennis coach. Robert Webb and Olivia Colman never shy away from laying it all out completely bare as they cling to their naturalist belief that it will be okay to voice their commitment to each other in the nude, even in front of friends and family who prefer to go through life clothed. Adding to both the hilarity and the poignancy are Vincent Franklin and Jason Watkins (both Mike Leigh alumni) as the endearingly delicious gay wedding planners who really understand love, even if they are less than tasteful or expert in managing its outward show.

Director Debbie Isitt, who conceived the idea and has put in onscreen with more ease and less artifice than real reality shows, has pulled a very convincing whole out what could have just been mere scattered pieces of wit and worry, so there is a real suspense as to who will win and how you may feel about it when it happens. Whether during filming or in editing, Isitt has kept the storylines cohesive and the actors on track, and she has escaped imposing any look-at-us-aren't-we-clever overlay, which makes many mock documentaries too self-aware for their own good.

Overall it's simply good fun, kind and caring at heart even when relationships get nasty as tension mounts. It's not important, not necessary, not substantial--just like confetti--but, like those little bits of colored paper tossed in the air by well-wishers, it symbolizes hope that lives united can be filled with brightness and beauty, however brief. Starring Martin Freeman, Jessica Stevenson, Stephen Mangan, Meredith MacNeill, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Vincent Franklin, Jason Watkins, Felicity Montagu, Jimmy Carr and Alison Steadman. Directed and written by Debbie Isitt. Produced by Ian Flooks and Ian Benson. A Fox Searchlight release. Romantic comedy. Rated R for nudity and language. Running time: 94 min.

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