It’s time for another character spotlight since I slacked off last week. The first one in the series was on the amazing-yet-under-appreciated British actor Rufus Sewell, and this time I’m featuring another Brit, actress Kristin Scott Thomas.
Please note: this post may contain spoilers
This fabulous British rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral pretty much launched Hugh Grant’s Hollywood career. The floppy-haired, stuttering Londoner became an instant heartthrob and the movie itself garnered critical acclaim, including two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was a hit with audiences the world over. In fact, according to IMDb, it was the highest-grossing British film in cinema history with worldwide box office in excess of $260 million.
I’m not surprised it was such a hit as it really a charming film with the wittiest script and great performances. It’s an unconventional love story between a commitment-phobe Charles and an American woman Carrie (Andie MacDowell) that spans through… well, what the title says. Throughout their journey, Charles is always surrounded by closest group of friends, who – with the exception of the happy gay couple Matthew and Gareth – are all looking for love of their own. Amongst them, one really stood out to me is the quietly-suffering girl with a massive crush: Fiona. Before I get to the character, let me just say that I’ve always admired Kristin Scott Thomas, the 50-year-old actress always delivers top-notch performances in everything I’ve seen her in: The English Patient, The Horse Whisperer, Life as A House, Gosford Park, and Easy Virtue, among others. Most recently she garnered a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations in the drama I’ve Loved You So Long.
Though the story is focused on the somewhat topsy-turvey romantic journey of Charles and Carrie, it’s the side story of Charles and Fiona that leaves a lasting impression on me. Sure it’s great to see the two main leads finally hooking up, and so Carrie finally gets her man in the end, la di da. But the witty, well-dressed and loyal Fiona only gets to watch the love of her life gets wrapped up in one romantic endeavor after another. Yet, it’s a testament of how great the script is that they never painted her as a victim, in fact, one doesn’t feel sorry for Fiona so much as deep empathy, as we’ve all been there before, you know, who hasn’t had an unrequited love once in their lifetime? The character also has the most memorable lines, especially the one where she had a naughty chat with the bumbling priest Father Gerald (played brilliantly by Rowan Atkinson) when discussing what it feels like to do weddings for the first time.
This scene below is one of my favorites from the movie, it’s not completely unpredictable but it still pinches your heart when you hear Fiona answers his best friend’s question with “You, Charlie.” Just as soon as she said it, she stops, perhaps regretting what she just did but knew there’s no turning back. It’s an exquisite scene, well-directed, well-written and superbly-acted by both Hugh and Kristin. In the middle of a festive, boisterous party, the mood completely shifts into something so quiet and heart-wrenching-ly real that you could almost feel Fiona’s pain and Charles’ astonishment, yet Fiona never loses her cool even as she bares her soul knowing there is no chance they could be together. What a refreshingly un-sugarcoated portrayal of the reality of love.
(Special thanks to Becky a.k.a Prairiegirl for capturing the clip for me)
If there is ever a moment where you want to scream at Charles for: one, being so darn oblivious and two, for not choosing someone as awesome as Fiona, who’s not only wealthy and beautiful but also knows him inside and out and loves him just the same, it’s this scene. But of course, love ain’t that simple, isn’t it? And perhaps, happy ending is overrated. This movie offers such a wonderful study of relationship that the best love story doesn’t always end up the way you expect it to be.