New from Solzy at the Movies by Danielle Solzman: The Wedding Guest Falls Short As Thriller

Taking us overseas to Pakistan and India, The Wedding Guest has some thrilling aspects but the film falls just a bit short as a thriller.

Jay (Dev Patel) is a man on the mission: kidnapping the bride-to-be, Samira (Radhika Apte).  He’s traveled all the way from Britain to Pakistan for her wedding.  The film starts out with the mystery and suspense that any thriller should.  It’s only when Jay’s plan goes to complete and utter shit when the improvisation begins.  Not the improvisation that you’d find in a comedy theater but that of his plan.  Jay is no longer in control of his destiny so to speak.  One meeting place with Deepesh (Jim Sarbh) turns into another when things keep falling through.  Lest we forget, Jay is still carrying a secret.  Meanwhile, news is starting to spread in the papers.

Jay and Samira find themselves in New Delhi when plans start falling apart.  Oh, they’re sharing a bed together so as to not cause any suspicion.  You can’t help but think about whether they’re attracted to each other.  Hey, it happened in Beauty and The Beast so you never know!

As a director, Michael Winterbottom knows a thing or two about directing films about people taking a trip.  This is the same director who has given us The Trip franchise.  There’s just something about this film that seems to be off.  While it’s true that a few aspects of this film work as a thriller, the rest simply falls short of its goal.  A thriller should have me sitting on the edge of the seat awaiting what happens next.  Sad to say but this one didn’t.  The 97 minutes breezed by ever so quickly that I wasn’t surprised when the end credits began rolling.

There’s some good ideas here and maybe in a different setting, they could work.  The film could possibly work as a contemporary Western but in a different country altogether.  Jay could very well find himself fitting in alongside Clint Eastwood.  Or dare I even speak his name now but John Wayne.  There’s honestly Western feel to Jay as a character.  I would not go so far as to call him a man out of time but there’s a sense of wanting to root for him even though what we know he’s doing is wrong as can be.

The performances are fine here and the score does add some aspects of a thriller.  But overall, The Wedding Guest is a film that simply didn’t have me sitting on the edge of my seat.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Michael Winterbottom
CAST:  Dev Patel, Radhike Apte, Jim Sarbh

Following its premiere during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, IFC Films opens The Wedding Guest in theaters on March 1, 2019. Grade: 2.5/5

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