Review: Marriage Technique For Beginners- Sweet Without Need For a Bucket
Channel 4, Friday 5th September, 7.35pm
Not being a fan of the old knot-tying joy myself (usual story…divorced parents…being too young…yadayada…), I sighed somewhat as I sat down to watch what sounds like a nauseating guide to wedded bliss. But you know what, I actually found that Marriage Technique For Beginners is quite a sweet yet practical documentary looking hopefully at an institution that is fading fast among our current generation.
In the run up to his own wedding and on a quest inspired by his grandparents’ manual, Marriage Technique Illustrated, Piers Sanderson, himself the product of a painful divorce, talks to couples of all ages to see if he can discover the secret to a happy married life. The couples he meets make this documentary. Their interaction is delightful despite what they say being at times quite surprising- one couple proclaims arguing to be the key to success and a pair of married club owners advocate a healthy bit of partner swapping! This, along with an amusing use of animations makes for a tone of light-hearted sincerity.
Although the presenter’s voice is not the most charismatic and his delivery of jokes surrounding a slightly contrived TV mission to write his wedding vows never leaves you clutching your sides, his intentions are pure. And this makes up for it. Just observing how much he lingers the camera lens upon his effortlessly beautiful fiancée as they tease one another affectionately, it’s not hard to see that this boy is head over heels. And the interview with his own father is poignant as he explains his fears rooted in their divorced family. The final shots are uplifting, showing him finalising his vows using what he has learned and marrying his fiancée.
So, what are the key techniques he has learned? I counted about six: Laughter, tolerance, healthy debate, lack of jealousy, freedom and love. Despite the cynical side of me not being able to resist mean thoughts that this TV testament might one day come back to haunt him (picturing him signing divorce papers and sobbing while clutching the DVD), I couldn’t help but be taken by the overall charm of the thing. Give this one a look for a half hour of refreshing optimism.
By Susan Allen