Written and directed by Michael Winterbottom of ‘The Trip’ movies, ‘The Wedding Guest’ does a good job of disguising from the audience what the film is truly about. It starts out as a thriller of intrigue and deception, but builds into a cherished friendship and, dare I say, a relationship between two people who least expected to be in one; especially with one another. I’d like to add that the title is incredibly misleading. In fact, if one were to go by the title, someone would be upset at what they might think they’re venturing into. They could assume perhaps a comedy or romance is in order, yet I assure you this is anything but a farce or a love story. It’s a beautifully shot suspense by cinematographer Giles Nuttgens (Colette, Hell or High Water) which manages one hell of a unique look at the areas where it was shot.
At first, you’re on a trip through India and Pakistan with a man you haven’t yet been introduced to, but you are aware of what he’s doing and you’re certain he’s up to no good. He gets on a plane, rents a car, grabs duct tape and buys some guns. If it’s a wedding he’s planning on crashing, who isn’t he happy with?! You might speculate it’s the groom at this point. Jealousy?
The genre ‘thriller’ for which the movie is tagged is half correct. While watching, you could be somewhat disappointed in how it’s playing out because, on occasion, the film itself can’t decide what category to fall under. I must add that by the time it’s over, you’ll glance back on the film as a whole and say to yourself, ‘Well done, Winterbottom.’ That said, you still can’t ignore where the film ultimately has a hiccup or two. While it does its job of entertaining you, there are areas of the script that are a bit ho-hum and hard to overlook. Most importantly, Winterbottom needed to get to the point quicker. Regardless, you’ll excuse this. Mostly because of the cast.
Dev Patel (Lion, Slumdog Millionaire) and Bollywood film and stage actress, Radhika Apte, give outstanding performances. Their characters, Jay and Samira, are trapped in a seemingly dicey and ever slippery situation, but both are well aware of the game they’re playing and are quite adept in the art of manipulation. Their firsthand knowledge of a good con keeps them ahead of the game and also has them skeptical of one another. Jay finds out Samira isn’t quite as innocent as she seems. Though he’s guarded, he eventually feels something stir and wishes he had met her under different circumstances.
The plot is that Samira lives in Pakistan where her family is going to make her marry someone she doesn’t love. Jay has been hired to kidnap Samira from her impending nuptials before it’s too late. He’s to bring her to the man she loves so they can run away and be together. This is where the title comes in. Though it’s lucky for her that Jay nabs her before the wedding happens, he’s not exactly a guest. In what is originally sold as a real kidnapping, you’re worried for her safety when Jay busts into her home. He isn’t aware that he’s helping her out of an arranged marriage, so the audience doesn’t learn this until right away either. When the true motive is introduced it all starts falling into place.
As I’ve mentioned, it’s sometimes slow but the more and more you get to know them, the more and more sexual tension builds. You want to see them together and before you know it you’re vested in their relationship. In the end, you come to the conclusion that Samira was more than likely the mastermind behind everything all along. Jay, as well as countless other men, may well have been a fly buzzing to close to her trap. Though you don’t see it at first, there’s some real genius in this film. ‘The Wedding Guest’ is unpredictable, daunting and has a creatively disguised wolf in sheep’s clothing. What more can you ask for from your noir?
In Phoenix find it playing at Camelview at Fashion Square!