One of our other writer’s has a slightly different take on this film and you can find her review on this site as well, but since we both had such different opinions on the film, and frankly it’s been a while since a movie came out that actually created some intellectual debate about it’s merits, our entertainment editor charged us with writing a set of competing reviews.
Jenny’s Wedding is an independent film that came out in July. Though for an independent film it starred some suprisingly large names, like Katherine Heigl and Tom Wilkinson.
The story is pretty basic. Jenny is the favorite daughter of a typical middle class suburban family. Her brother and sister are both married, her father is a fireman, and her mother is a stay at home mom. Jenny is the odd one out, a career woman who seems to not have any plans to get married…to a man anyway.
If you are looking for a nice little lesbian rom-com you aren’t going to get that from this. There’s no romantic drama, the relationship between Jenny and her fiance is solid and is honestly barely a blip in the film. The movie is about Jenny’s relationship with her family, from the beginning to the end, which is something I think many people who watched it missed.
Early on in the film Jenny’s father, Eddie, talks to Jenny about how you know when you’ve met the “right one” to marry.
“When you meet the right person, you go the distance. And let me tell you about the distance. Everybody changes. If you’re with the right person, and they change, you meet the right person all over again.”
And while this is an important moment in the film, it’s more for the fact that it’s foreshadowing for the entire arc of the film. The “right person” here isn’t Kitty, it’s Jenny. The person who changes is Jenny, at least as far as her family is concerned, and the entire film is about them realizing that she’s still the person they love.
Which sounds really nice and heartwarming, but to be honest this is a movie where every single person is flawed. No one is the hero here, they all make massive mistakes in dealing with this situation. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced the whole “coming out as an adult to my socially conservative middle class parents” but I recognized every single scene from this movie as something that could have been lifted from my own life.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike both sides of this conflict. The parents ask Jenny to lie to everyone about her sexuality, which causes needless conflict and emotional problems for Jenny. The parents refuse to communicate with each other or Jenny in any meaningful way. Jenny’s sister takes out her feelings of inadequacy on Jenny for no reason except that she’s bad at communication. Jenny is downright nasty to her parents at times and kind of a jerk to her sister as well. In fact her brother, who has very little screen time, is probably the best of the whole group.
There is a scene about half way through the film that showcases a very rude and vulgar fight between Jenny and her father, while her fiance, her mother, and her parent’s neighbors watch. It destroys a lot of the goodwill that Jenny’s character has built up with the audience, unless you have actually experienced a fight like that yourself.
I have, unfortunately. I didn’t feel good afterward (neither does Jenny) but when you are emotional and defensive and you feel like your family no longer supports or loves you…you say things that you really shouldn’t.
Personally this film is a reminder to me (and should be a reminder to every gay person) that parents may not always be ready to jump right into a gay pride parade for you when you come out and while that’s upsetting it’s something you need to try to give them time to deal with the change in their perspective. If you don’t give them time (though you do have to stand up for yourself as well and refuse to pretend to be something your not) then the anger and fighting begin to push people apart as they get more and more defensive.
So, like I said, if you are looking for a cute love story about a wedding, this is not it. If you are looking for a story that accurately shows the pain and awkward realities of coming out, this is exactly what you are looking for.