Saturday, 27 April 2013

No.186 : Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here at IMDb

Not to be confused with the 1987 Emily Lloyd film (see No.117)  this ‘Wish You Were Here’ is a 2012 mystery drama with a non-linear narrative and a lot to like. The lack of a question mark in the title makes it sound more of a plaintive plea than an invitation, and as the film develops you can see that was totally the intent.

We open with a high energy holiday being enjoyed by four friends in Cambodia. There is a rocking soundtrack as they party on the beach and eat insects without a care in the world, but the cares are in the post, don’t you worry. As the credits sequence ends the bright lights and rave music are replaced with a haunted man walking through a sodden field as the sun comes up. Something has happened and what follows is the story of the night before. A bit like ‘The Hangover’ with less slapstick.

The four friends are Dave, a kind of tubby Russell Crowe who looks constantly drunk, his wife Alice and her sister Steph and Steph’s new boyfriend, Jeremy. The four head off on the bender as Alice is six months pregnant and it’s their last chance to party before their brood expands to three. We quickly learn that only three of the friends returned home, with Jeremy’s ticket going unused.

At first it looks like a straight forward missing person case but as we learn more about the past through flashbacks we know that secrets and lies abound. The family is wrenched apart when Dave admits to having sex with Steph and the police’s interest in Jeremy’s business interests mean his fate is looking bad. As the customs dog sniffs its way through the warehouse will his disappearance be down to a business deal gone bad or to something a bit closer to home?

Meanwhile Dave has spotted a sinister car tracking his movements and his wife is taking on an unhealthy taste for wine as her baby's arrival dawns. Let’s hope she remembers to buckle up!

I really enjoyed this Aussie slice of life as heavy drinking and infidelity spell all manor of trouble for our hapless bunch. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a laugh to be had, but their headlong lunges towards oblivion leave you with your fingers over your eyes in places.

The narrative is all over the shop as we are slowly drip fed snippets of information in flashback which serve to dismiss our theories as soon as they develop. The outcome in a Glittering bar wasn’t expected but it put all the pieces neatly and satisfyingly in place.

The cast were uniformly good but for the most part it was a two man show with Dave and Alice shining as their marriage crumbled as the secrets of the holiday were exposed. The editing was excellent and there was never any confusion over where we were in the story with the Cambodia scenes that bit brighter and, helpfully, always containing Cambodian characters.

The police detection angle and the scene with the missing Jeremy’s parents were mostly padding but the sense of doom was well handled as Dave’s infidelity was as big a blow as the other stuff that threatened to engulf them all. I’m being deliberately vague as the unfolding story is really worth your investment. All in all this was an excellent and unsettling 90 minutes and well worth your time.

Best Bit “Tonight’s Special Offer Is…
‘W’ Score 19/23

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