Friday, January 27, 2012

Sundance 2012 Review: Wish You Were Here

My very first sun dance festival turned out to be quite a treat. The Aussie film 'Wish You Were Here' turned out to have quite a promising cast, a smart script and a few twists that made it more than you're average drama. The plot centers around a single couple who are dealing with the aftermath of a vacation where a mutual friend has disappeared. That, coupled with questions of infidelity, fears about their own relationship and the burden of trying to raise an ever expanding family make for a stewpot of unintended consequences.

Most would assume rising Hollywood star Joel Edgerton would be the main draw here...and while his films Animal Kingdom and Warrior bring in the audience, it's screenwriter and lead Felicity Price, playing his wife who steals the show. Her candid portrayal of a wife who is trying to care for her kids, deal with tragedy and attempt to save a crumbling marriage demands your full empathy. Joel does great as the torn and confused husband and Teresa Palmer does her part as the grieving sister who's boyfriend disappears. The ending provides quite a twist that resolves much of the moral ambiguities the movie introduces and proves that open communication and trust are needed in any marriage to make it work.

The film has problems with pacing and editing. The director could have chosen much better shots to establish location and mood. Also, the film seemed to drag at times as if the director was too in love with a lot of the content to leave it on the cutting room floor. This was detrimental to the film that seemed to waver between a crackling thriller and a domestic drama. If the director could decide on the film he was trying to make, and let the script tell the underlying story, this film would be very marketable. In the meantime we will have to enjoy the story and the acting...and wait for the filmmaking to catch up.

Sundance notes: at the screening was the director, producer and cast...who were very friendly and seemed genuinely excited to be at Sundance. They fielded questions after the screening. I was able to meet Joel Edgerton and ask how he was cast. He actually went to school and trained with the director, but had to ask to be in the film after seeing his friends notes and realizing they had proposed another actor to play the part he wanted. He is still pretty cut for anyone who remembers him as Brendan in Warrior.

UPDATE: Wish You Were Here was just aquired by Entertainment One and is expected to be released in theaters in the U.S. and Canada in fall 2012.

Final Consensus: 
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t Bother

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