Cleveland may not be the maid of honor, but it’s certainly part of the bridal party in Jenny’s Wedding. The Katherine Heigl film, shot here in fall 2013 and set to debut in select theaters nationwide July 31, uses familiar settings such as the 5th Street Arcade and Zagara’s Marketplace in Cleveland Heights as the backdrop to a conflict between suburban ideals and modern reality.
As Jenny, Katherine Heigl is a compassionate woman who, after years of locking the truth underneath a layer of dutiful daughter platitudes, decides it is finally time to come out to her parents and marry the woman they thought was her roommate. Her father and mother, played by Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond, are stunned, their selfish misconceptions about their gay daughter molded by suburban fear: What will the neighbors think?
Filmed throughout the city in fall 2013, Jenny’s Wedding suffered a bumpy post-production ride involving an Indiegogo fundraising campaign that led to its world premiere July 10 at Outfest Los Angeles. Cleveland is a very visible backdrop to this family drama, hosting a rousing, self-aware speech in the Arcade by Jenny and a confrontational outburst from Jenny’s mother directed at the neighborhood busybodies in Zagara’s. It also contributes to golden moments of comic relief, including one earnest debate over the virtues of taking Interstate 90 versus Carnegie Avenue after 4:30 p.m. on a weekday. While same-sex marriage was not legal in Ohio until long after filming, the issue is — somewhat prophetically — left untouched.
Jenny’s Wedding is neither extreme in its message nor gaudy in its execution. And although the music may rise a bit overdramatically at poignant moments and the wedding finale may put the pieces together a bit too perfectly, the film is nuanced, relatable and gritty. Jenny’s family could be anyone’s family. // Sarah Rense