Death at a Funeral

I was spying for inspiration, when I turned on my TV, only to end up watching a movie. For most part of the day, especially when you’re bogged down by a seasonal flu (Yes, not the Swine Flu, for God’s sake- that just makes my illness too cliché…), you’re stuck with a book and the Idiot Box. You’re mostly alternating between the two, occasionally getting up to snack on something and dream of forbiddens (the Cokes and Ice-Creams of the world). But you’re ill and pretty down and out, which was when I landed on the movie I was speaking of.

Death at a Funeral is a superbly enterprising movie; witty and lined with quirks you can’t get enough of. What the movie did to me? Well, for one, it set me rolling off my mattress. But simultaneously, it proved to depict what most of us take for granted- Our Family. A Brit household is met with the tragic revelation of the death of the patriarch, and what follows at the funeral is ultimate mayhem. Substance abuse, homosexuality and another supposed death at the funeral makes up for hilarious nuances that director Frank Oz takes care of. Each character is memorable and each has its own witticism to be associated with. But it is only towards the end that you realize how the writer of the movie played around with the ‘death’ theme. The son’s eulogy is probably the best interpretation of what Death at a Funeral wishes to explain: The death of distances, the death of former perceptions and finally, the respect that death ought to earn at a funeral.

So what led me to write about this movie in a pseudo-review mode? It’s basically the very fact that some revelations, no matter how comic they appear to be, are actually meant to discard orthodoxy. When the family learns of the deceased patriarch’s homosexuality, a natural tendency to hide the ‘flaw’ at the pious ceremony is taken up. Though everyone is shown to be aghast, the ‘death’ at the funeral actually accepts the fact that “an exceptional man” is no longer among them.

Moving over sappy critique, this movie is a must watch when it comes to subtly expressing the quirks of a disjointed and obviously, distanced family. The sons, like most sons these days, are hardly sensitive towards each other and are moving towards the nuclear concept very rapidly. And though the subjects dealt with are very contemporary, the aim is to derive satirical pleasure out of human capacities within the familial sphere.

The case of ‘Valium abuse’ is undoubtedly the ace-streak in the entire script. Mistaken for Valium, consumption of a hallucination-instigating drug leads to seriously funny consequences- an apparent death of the midget gay-partner, the hallucination spree of the niece’s fiancé and finally old Uncle Alfie’s untold of misery! Andy Nyman playing Howard in the movie proves to be one of the most outrageously caricatured characters. His timing steals the show!

The movie is drawn on the theme of finding ground among differences. And for this family, it dawns after comic interventions at a funeral.

So grab a rental or download it. Or simply wait for air time on TV again. But don’t miss this one. It’s sure to draw you in its underlying humor and hilarity.

Ankita Kanwar