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The Wedding Guest - 2019

The Wedding Guest - 2019

Director(s): Michael Winterbottom

Writer(s): Michael Winterbottom

Cinematography by: Giles Nuttgens

Editor(s): Marc Richardson

Cast: Dev Patel, Radhika Apte, Jim Sarbh and Harish Khanna

Review:

Dev Patel broke through little over a decade ago with Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Since then he has seen a hodgepodge of supporting roles across different genres, and it felt like he wasn't finding his footing in Hollywood. However, 2016's Lion proved that he is more than capable of being a complexed leading man. The Wedding Guest adds to his leading man resume, as he takes us on a tour of Pakistan and India in this neo-noir thriller, that feels like a classic callback of the femme fatale golden days. 

The story follows a mysterious British Muslim man, Jay (Patel), traveling across Pakistan. We learn that he was hired to kidnap a bride-to-be, Samira (Apte), and bring her to India. When things go wrong, he will have to decide whether to complete his mission or stay behind in India with Samira. Winterbottom's screenplay chooses the route of "show, not tell" throughout most of the runtime, leaving the audience sitting back trying to understand the motives and the mission of our lead. The first half of the film is stronger than the second, as the mystery of the secrecy of the mission grabs you. We are immersed in the culture and traditions of this world, even though Jay keeps his distance with the world around him. Once we hit India, the film slows down a bit as it takes a shift towards a quasi-romantic noir mix, since we do not fully know the motivations of Samira with Jay. I would say that the end is a bit telegraphed, but I don't believe that it is a detriment to the overall enjoyment of the film.

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The film does get a bit repetitive, as we see multiple driving, shopping, and checking into hotel sequences - to the point that it feels a bit like a travel blog of the hidden gems of Pakistan and India. And the score seemed to be confused as to what it should go for in specific sequences, with the emotions being evoked not melding with the visuals.

Dev Patel is excellent as the mysterious, brooding lead that will get his mission completed at all cost. After watching this performance, I would like him to dip his toes in the action genre. Radhika Apte is wonderful in her femme fatale role, as we never fully understand what motivates specific actions she takes throughout. What makes this film is their chemistry and Winterbottom know this as his focus in the second half is solely on their relationship.

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The Wedding Guest is a good neo-noir film that suffers a bit from the repetitive nature of the constant traveling and an out of place score. Dev Patel and Radhika Apte are wonderful, and I like to see more from them in the coming years. The chemistry is one of the selling points, along with the rarity of a noir film set outside the American culture. I would wait for it to hit your favorite streaming device.

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The Wedding Guest is a Streamer!

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