Originally produced for British television and released direct-to-video in the US, THE WEDDING GIFT is a poignant character study of a marriage in which the wife suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This unusual love story is based on autobiographical writings of Deric Longden.
England, Christmas, 1984. Deric and Diana Longden (Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters) have been happily married for over two decades. For the last five years, Diana has been suffering from a mysterious illness. She's in constant pain and has frequent blackouts, semi-paralysis in her legs, and
crippling arthritis in her hands. A writer and businessman, Deric has devoted his life to caring for Diana; the lingerie factory he runs is going bankrupt due to his neglect. Frustrated by doctors who can't offer a diagnosis or recommend treatment--one even suggests that it's all
psychosomatic--the Longdens try to weather the illness with good humor. Deric encourages Diana to hope for a cure, but she is secretly resigned to facing a difficult death. One day, Deric finds some sleeping pills that Diana has hidden. She admits that she has considered ending her own suffering,
and, despite his protests, insists on her right to do so. When she announces her intention to walk down the aisle at the March wedding of their son Nick (Andrew Lancel), her determination pleases Deric, but his fears linger.
At a writers' luncheon, Deric meets novelist Aileen Armitage (Sian Thomas), who is blind. The two get on famously, and their friendship leads to attraction, but Deric is devoted to his wife. He tells Diana he will always be satisfied to be with her, no matter what the circumstances, but his
sentiment is both comforting and unnerving to her. While she's reliant on Deric for good reason, Diana asserts whatever independence she can; at the same time, she thinks that Deric is too dependent on her, and strangely happy to be so. When Diana and Aileen meet, the two conspire to push Deric
into falling in love with Aileen. All three begin spending time together. Winter turns to spring, and at Nick's wedding, Diana walks down the aisle on her own. Soon after, during a difficult hospital stay, Diana tells Deric that she wants him to be with Aileen. Her condition worsening, Diana
drowns herself in the bathtub. Five years later, Deric and Aileen wed.
Thanks to the rich performances of Broadbent (ENCHANTED APRIL) and Walters (THE SUMMER HOUSE), THE WEDDING GIFT doesn't need to be an overblown romantic tragedy to convey the depth of feeling Deric and Diana have for each other. Walters is superb as a woman who conceals her frustration and anger
in the interest of family harmony. Broadbent is equally good as Deric: his weary face is a canvas of anxiety, exhaustion, hope, and love. The film's general avoidance of melodramatic conventions is welcome, and its criticisms of an arrogant medical establishment are conveyed with subtlety, as in a
scene in a consulting room where a doctor ignores Diana, discussing her case with Deric as though she weren't in the room. Nor does the film exploit Diana's suicide to debate the issue of a patient's right to die. The act is neither judged nor defended, but simply presented as a factual
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Originally produced for British television and released direct-to-video in the US, THE WEDDING GIFT is a poignant character study of a marriage in which the wife suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This unusual love story is based on autobiographical wr… (more)