Serial (Bad) Weddings comically and personally takes on France’s racial issues

A review by Brenda Daniels

Poster supplied by Ster Kinekor

Poster supplied by Ster Kinekor

In this humorous foreign film, Catholic French couple, Claude and Marie Verneuil, have four daughters, each of whom marries a man of a different culture and religion. Three of the daughters marry in quick succession and a Muslim Arab, a Shephardi Jew and a Chinese become the Verneuils’ sons-in-law.

These three different men really test the Verneuils’ tolerance levels and cause tensions between the sons-in-law themselves. Gradually, however, the family makes an effort to accept the others’ differences, and a jumbled working relationship begins to form. But when daughter number four brings home – horrors – a black man, the whole family is thrown into disarray.

It seems important that this film is set in France. Despite the country’s cherished secular tradition France has a Christian majority. And partially as a result of its secularism, France has experienced recent tensions with controversial Muslim issues like the headscarf and halaal food. In Serial (Bad) Weddings the Verneuil family forms a picture of a changed French society and what it takes to make that society work.

The family, and by extension France, doesn’t gloss over its differences and the difficulties they pose. But the characters are ultimately united by their commonalities: the fact that they are all French, and that they are all family.

The humour in Serial (Bad) Weddings is quirky and lots of fun. It escalates as the movie progresses culminating in a joyous, non-sugary, gratifying celebration.

Serial (Bad) Weddings is a French film with English subtitles. It opens at Cinema Nouveau on 1 May.

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