January 21, 2012

Sundance Review: Wish You Were Here

Often times, what isn't being said makes all the difference. We go through something traumatic, but don't speak about it, because to speak about it would be to invite said trauma back into your life. Such is the conceit of Wish You Were Here, the new film by director Kieran Darcy-Smith, which saw it's premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The movie tells two stories; one about a relationship slowly unraveling in the wake of a moment of infidelity, and a mystery revolving around the disappearance of a man. One is significantly better than the other.

Joel Edgerton and Felicity Price play Dave and Alice Flannery, a married couple with two kids and a third on the way. On a whim, they decide to join Alice's sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) on a soirée to Cambodia with her new boyfriend Jeremy (Anthony Starr). Upon their return however, something foul has transpired. Jeremy has disappeared, leaving Dave, Alice, and Steph clueless as to his whereabouts. As if things weren't bad enough, Steph and Dave guiltily reveal to Alice that they slept together during a night of booze drenched, drug fueled partying. Soon, Alice and Dave are at each other's throats as the fate of Jeremy is slowly revealed.

Kieran Darcy-Smith

It's told in that non-linear sort of way. You know, the way Tarantino perfected with Reservoir Dogs? It's not just a style gimmick. The way Darcy-Smith chooses to tell his story really heightens the suspense. The mystery surrounding Jeremy's disappearance is really well handled.

I wish the same could be said of the romantic troubles of Dave and Alice. While it does fit within the framework of the story, and Edgerton and Price are really good, I just found myself wanting to revisit Jeremy and what befell him. It's a much more interesting story, and the romantic stuff just distracts from that. I mean, the romantic stuff is good, and the script by Darcy-Smith and Price (they're married in real life) is very genuine. I just couldn't help but wonder what sort of bomb they were about to drop on us in regard to Jeremy.

Joel Edgerton

The cast, and especially Edgerton and Price, are all uniformy excellent, and do a great job handling the dramatic stuff within the family, as well as the more surreal aspects of the film. As the plot thickens, we are offered insight into just what went down on that crazy night in Cambodia, and it's pretty shocking. I sort of guessed as to how Jeremy would end up, but I did not expect that it would be like that. Kudos to Darcy-Smith and Price, who no doubt used some of the tools learned from Animal Kingdom. 

It's a well done movie that deserves your attention. All the actors perform admirably, especially Edgerton and Price, and Darcy-Smith is a confident and clever director. Worth checking out, to be sure.

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