Tears of laughter

Comedy-drama in 1990s British cinema

Author: Nigel Mather

This book explores the interactions of comedy and drama within a group of significant and influential films released during the decade of the 1990s. It examines a group of British films from this period which engage with economic and social issues in unusual and compelling ways. Brassed Off and The Full Monty are two films invoking very different cultural traditions as possible activities for unemployed males and troubled communities in modern British society. The book then discusses a number of contemporary British films focusing upon the experiences of British-Asian and African-Caribbean characters and their efforts to feel 'at home' in Western and British society. It features an extensive analysis of East is East, a comedy-drama about the cultural and ideological tensions surfacing between members of a British-Asian family living in Salford, circa 1971. Next, the book includes case studies of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. It investigates the ways in which humour is deployed for dramatic and emotional effect in the context of scenarios dealing with such seemingly non-comic subjects as mass unemployment, failed or uneasy relationships, bitter family disputes, or instances of racial tension and conflict in British society. The book demonstrates that the interaction of comic and dramatic modes of narration within the films discussed proved to be a dynamic creative mechanism in 1990s British cinema, facilitating and enabling the construction of innovative and genuinely exploratory narratives about characters who are striving to realise particular aspirations and hopes within a complex culture.

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