Cordially Invited had a promising start, but ultimately suffered from lack of plot. Granted, writer/director Michael Fouther set out to make a slice-of-life film, and he succeeded. The film follows Kenya Jackson (Christie) and Alton Sheffield (Ely) on their wedding day. It begins as Kenya wakes up nervous, and Alton pulls himself together after his bachelor party. It ends as the reception draws to a close, leaving the newlyweds together. During film we meet various quirky characters and watch them try to resolve their emotional issues. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but
The slice-of-life nature of this film makes it sag in the middle as it moves from laugh to laugh without anything to propel the story forward. The only real tension here comes from the conflicting personalities of the wedding guests. It might have been nice to see this film follow the Death at a Funeral model and include more of a full-fledged story. There was room for it. In fact, for a while this reviewer kept waiting for the story to start, because the film kept hinting that something bad had happened to the bride in Washington D.C., something that had cost her her job. So it seemed obvious that this bad thing, whatever it was, would rear its head at the wedding and have to be resolved.
It never did. Not in a big-story way. Eventually the film did tell us what happened, but it was all very low-key. There were no big confrontations or resolutions. The filmmakers chose to keep everything on the level of the characters instead of the plot. That's their choice.
The film did a great job portraying the individual characters, most of whom came off as human and flawed and funny, with one exception: the groom's mother, Ann Sheffield (Payne), who was never able to rise above the level of a stereotype. Especially early in the film, her dialogue was so stiff it was painful.
The verdict? If you love weddings, like to laugh, and appreciate slice-of-life, this film is probably for you. If not, you'll want to avoid it.
Starring: Freda Payne, Lauren Christie, David Ely, Debra Wilson, Emayatzy E. Corinealdi, Melinda Rochelle
Director: Michael Fouther
Screenwriter: Michael Fouther
Producer: Lesa Fouther, Palma L. Reed
Release Date: TBD
World premiere: American Black Film Festival, 2007