Writers: Charlotte Blom and Mette M. Bølstad
Director: Charlotte Blom
Despite its title, Diana’s Wedding is not a lavish recreation of the 1981 royal wedding but a 90-minute Norwegian comedy about a couple who get married on the same day with their baby daughter Diana in her pram nearby. A portrait of a complicated relationship between husband and wife is the substance of Charlotte Blom’s film covering 30-years in which the purpose and meaning of marriage is the subject.
Young and in love, Liv and Terje have a rather modest ceremony on the same day as the royal couple and move into their new suburban home next door to Unni and Jan who also have a baby. Growing up side-by-side Diana and Irene experience the highs and lows of their parents’ relationships which leaves a lasting impression as the best friends reach adulthood.
The Diana of the title has a twofold purpose, marking the route from wedding day to troubled couple using the late Princess of Wales’s life as milestones while simultaneously focusing on the Diana of this story whose wedding is the ultimate end point of the film. While the wedding itself is not the driver – there is no will she / won’t she cliches – how a child experiences and is shaped by the marriage of her parents and neighbours adds a new dimension as the fallibilities and contradictions of grown-ups is explored.
Diana herself is rarely the focus and instead, like the viewer, she is a passive observer of events which slightly confuses Blom and co-writer Mette M. Bølstad’s premise. Arguably, it is Liv whose point of view the audience follows as she adjusts to her new life and starts to see through her husband’s charms. We understand less of Terje’s viewpoint which makes his character blankly sexist and sometimes boorish, while across the fence Unni grows more sympathetic while husband Jan is increasingly dislikeable, even creepy.
The films takes place at intervals across the 30-years, remarkable largely for the fact that both couples stay married despite the bickering and fallouts on show. So, while there is no A to B plot as such, Blom and Bølstad are interested in domestic changes, shifts in power dynamics, expectations and meanings as long relationships evolved. The final section with the now grown-up Diana is underwhelming next to the more colourful lives of her parents but there is much to appreciate in the changing marital dynamics as the decades roll by.
Åsa Nilsson and Ida Toft’s 80s and 90s design is particularly effective, capturing the slightly low budget necessity of interior design and costume for working class couples like Liv and Terje with Marie Blokhus and Pål Sverre Hagen convincing as the spouses balancing a vitriolic loathing with a can’t-live-without-each-other devotion which shifts in intensity across the film. Jannike Kruse is notable as Unni the buttoned-up neighbour starved of attention and finding release through the friends next door.
The film’s reference to Princess Diana is hardly needed and while the title will attract the curious, there is enough here to stand on its own merit. The child’s eye view is not as pronounced or consistent as it could be and the ending feels too pat, but Diana’s wedding is worth attending.
Diana’s Wedding will be available on Digital Download from 19th July