Hugh Grant, the young British actor, has done decent work (Maurice, Impromptu, The Remains of the Day) without leaving a distinct impression. This magical romantic comedy changes all that. In a star-making performance, the stylish, sexy Grant proves himself a world-class charmer. He can play love struck with no loss of intelligence and wit. And he makes it seem effortless, the way Cary Grant did in the peak days of The Philadelphia Story and The Awful Truth. Thanks to Hugh Grant, sophisticated fun is alive and bubbling in the rum, glum ’90s.
To fess up, the plot creaks a bit. The script by Richard Curtis (The Tall Guy) starts with a wedding at which Charles (Grant), a confirmed bachelor, meets an American beauty, Carrie (Andie Mac-Dowell), and tumbles at first sight. They split after one night but meet again at a second wedding, where she introduces her fiance. The third wedding is hers; the fourth is his. In between, there’s a funeral.
It’s moonshine, of course. But director Mike Newell (Enchanted April) uncorks this champagne farce as if the fizz won’t stop. It doesn’t, until mawkishness sets in. The cast is splendid, especially Kristin Scott Thomas as an heiress who hides her love for Charles and James Fleet as her likable clod of a brother. But what you’ll remember is MacDowell’s radiance and the blissed-out way Grant drinks it in. The pleasure of their company makes Four Weddings a very special occasion.