Friday, March 1, 2019

Movie with Abe: The Wedding Guest

The Wedding Guest
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Released March 1, 2019

Not all nuptials follow the same course of action. In a modern-day society, people mostly choose their own partners, and it’s not uncommon for engagements to occur after the birth of children or not to happen at all. Many cultures still set up arranged marriages, and even if those involved have the option of whether to accept the match or not, it may still feel societally prescribed. Leaving that life behind can be one way of escaping a destiny someone does not want to fulfill, and the way that they choose to extract themselves can be simple or considerably more drastic.

Jay (Dev Patel) lands in Pakistan after leaving Britain, in town for a wedding but with more devious aims than just attending as a guest. After purchasing the necessary supplies and following his carefully-concocted plan, he grabs and kidnaps the bride, Samira (Radhika Apte), though some complications ensue in the process. Once they are far enough away, Jay reveals to Samira who he works for, explaining to her that things aren’t going to happen as he thought they might and that the two of them will need to rely on each other in order to survive since his low-profile abduction has turned into something far less discreet.

This is a film that begins right in the middle of the action, with Jay already en route and traveling with items that indicate a clear violent intent, and following him tightly as he becomes less and less confident in the success of his mission. Described as a “globetrotting thriller,” this film should manage to keep audiences enthralled at least in the immediacy of what’s going on, thanks in no small part to the pounding score by composer Harry Escott, who helped enhance a very different film, “Shame,” the same way. Its plot developments aren’t terribly sophisticated, yet by staying focused on Jay and Samira and avoiding the allure of an overarching global conspiracy taking over the storyline, this film is able to stay relevant, if only for the duration of its runtime.

Patel became known to the world as a result of his role in “Slumdog Millionaire” and has since appeared in similarly sympathetic parts like the TV show “The Newsroom” and the film “Lion.” This is a departure from that for him, and he is indeed believable as a kidnapper-for-hire, matched well by Indian actress Apte, who reveals much more stamina and capability in Samira than initially meets the eye. Director Michael Winterbottom has helmed a number of films across many different genres over the year, and the points off this one gets for a relatively familiar story it somewhat evens out with a surprising watchability factor.


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