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James Badge Dale
"The Wedding Guest" (2018 release from the UK; 97 min.) brings the story of Jay. As the movie opens, he is packing his bags (including multiple passports), and before we know it he is on his way from London to Lahore, Pakistan. Once there, he rents a car and finds a place where he buys 2 hand guns. He eventually ends up in Punjab... At this point we are 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest from veteran UK writer-director Michael Winterbottom. Here he brings a story of a mysterious guy who looks like he's up to no good. And what actually is he up to? Probably Winterbottom keeps us purposefully on our toes and guessing for a long time. Frankly, one-third into the movie (the half hour mark) and I had no idea who was who or what the big picture was. But then it started to make sense, slowly but surely. And before I realized it, the movie had also taken quite a different direction that what I had anticipated. The movie benefits enormously from Dev "Slumdog Millionaire" Patel's excellent work. He is in virtually every frame of the movie. It feels like he's been around since forever, but Patel is still not even 30 years old! Indian actress Radhika Apte brings the female lead, and turns out to be a worthy sparring partner for Patel. The Apte character asks the Patel character at one point "Can I trust you?", and he responds "No". How can you not like a guy who is so truthful? The movie regretfully suffers from a weak ending. But in the end, Winterbottom succeeds in keeping my interest quasi non-stop by making this a fast-paced movie with likable lead performers and an authentic background vibe as to how things are in Pakistan and India (the never-ending traffic chaos, for one!).
"The Wedding Guest" premiered at last Fall's Toronto International Film Festival, and it opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati this past weekend. The Wednesday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended dismally (2 people, including myself). I would be surprised if this plays more than a week. But if you are in the mood for an exotic drama set in Pakistan and India, I might suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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