People who are truly funny will often declare that a portion of pain is essential to good comedy. Whether in the deliverer or the receiver of comedy, a shared experience and a decision to laugh rather than cry at life’s tense or tragic moments is a valuable coping mechanism. Using this template, it makes sense that actors whom are skilled at comedy are also able to deliver a dramatic performance that is striking. This is notably true for actress Effy Han and her body of work. From the crime fueled drama of 5150 to her recent award-winning performance in We Need to Cancel the Wedding, Effy possesses that rare authenticity which adamantly persuades audiences that she is purely a dramatic actress…or solely a gifted comedic actress, depending on which genre they experience her in. Portraying Abby, the hesitant bride-to-be at the center of We Need to Cancel the Wedding, copious awards were bestowed upon Effy including “Best Actor” at the CFK International Film Festival, Independent Shorts Awards, Indie Short Fest, Melkbos Short Film Festival, and others. The creators of We Need to Cancel the Wedding had spotted Effy starring in a live stage performance of the play “The Miracle Worker” as Helen Keller. This celebrated American author who had no eyesight or hearing is vastly different from Abby but it was Effy’s incredible physical performance which led to her being pegged for the role of Abby. This is a hint as to the depth and range of this actress born in China who has become increasingly favored in Hollywood.
In Director Jiaki Jin’s take on wedding jitters, Abby [Effy Han] and Nick [Alessio Mongardi] are a soon-to-be betrothed couple who have opposite perspectives on their current tipping point. Nick believes that concerns about a lifetime commitment are normal while Abby is convinced that her ill-fitting wedding dress is an omen that they should call of their nuptials. Through some deep couple’s dialogue and soul searching, it becomes clear that Abby’s trepidation is rooted in her fear of the responsibilities that marriage demands. Nick may perhaps know and trust Abby more than she does herself but the impending arrival of both sets of parents throws a sizable complication into a resolution for this young couple. We Need to Cancel the Wedding shows the commonality of this almost universal life experience, baring the neurotic comedy of it for viewers. While it’s undeniable that this circumstance is one which we’ve seen in generations of films, it’s the chemistry of Han and Alessio which makes it both transfixing and somehow relatable. Early in the film, it’s evident that the creators of this film said “no” to the old rules and were determined to find a new path in Rom-com storytelling; one founded in strong acting rather than merely pretty faces. Nowhere is this clearer than in the scene where Abby tells Nick that they must cancel the wedding. Effy’s (as Abby) nearly unhinged proclamation that they are making a mistake is in the very inverse of Alessio (as Nick) whose calm and sensitive demeanor blends the two for a pairing reminiscent of comedy’s great duos like Stiller and Meara or even Laurel and Hardy. A contentious relationship is a wellspring of comedy when those involved are bound to each other, none more so than when matrimony is a part of the equation. The magic between these two lead actors is even more satisfying in a later heartfelt dialogue in which Abby’s true reasons are revealed. It’s clear that they care deeply for each other but this might not be enough to carry them through her personal barriers.
Abby might seem high-maintenance or overly dramatic but Nick’s reactions to her emotional outbursts remind the audience that we are not seeing the Abby he’s known for most of their relationship. In terms of the story, Abby is most certainly the catalyst and hub around which the film revolves; without her, there is no story. Effy Han is mesmerizing as Abby. Particularly remarkable is how Abby is continually revealed in different layers. The very inverse of a bridezilla starved for attention, she’s deeply complex and sensitive to all involved parties. Effy informs, “Abby’s character flaw is her insecurity, a common result from neglecting yet high-demanding parents. She’s afraid of marriage not because she doesn’t love her fiancé but rather due to the fear of disappointing him and ‘not being good enough. Her entire character was centered around the fact that she doesn’t believe in herself. I created a background for her as a neglected child who believes that the reason she’s not getting her parents’ attention is because she’s ‘not good enough’, which is something I can relate to and work on. For me, to understand a character’s motive is the key for a successful portrait of a real human being instead of an idea written on the page. Abby’s action of calling off the wedding is motivated by her love for Nick, which is incredibly courageous and sweet. These qualities are the cornerstones for Abby’s personality and I made sure to include them in my performance.” Communicating her personal affinity for Abby, Han adds, “Portraying Abby gave me a chance to explore comedy from a different prospective. Comedic effect usually comes from a bigger/broader style of acting, but this story and the background of this character required a more subtle performance. To balance the comedic effect with the dramatic nature of the story, I had to try a lot of different things before landing on my final choice. I wouldn't have had this opportunity to play and to explore if not for Abby; I’m so thankful to her for the way she stood up for what she felt was the right thing to do.”
Published by Zoe Sewell