The Wedding Guest
On the heels of The Trip to Spain and separate documentaries on the band Wolf Alice and comedian Russell Brand, Michael Winterbottom continues to defy pigeonholing with the gripping India-set thriller, The Wedding Guest.
Featuring some of the writer/director’s most efficient storytelling and filmmaking to date, the film follows a solitary man (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire) as he systematically makes his way east from London, picking up weapons and other supplies along the way.
Thanks to sharp editing through a series of intriguing towns, shops, roads, and other sights that heighten the foreign land’s exotic feel, tension likewise rises as the man sets up a mysterious, elaborate mission and scopes out what appears to be his target — an engaged woman named Samira (Radhika Apte).
Upon abducting her, the purpose for his visit grows clearer, but due to complications that arise in the process, sealing the deal suddenly becomes as complex as the build-up, one full of exciting twists and turns as the two attempt to outrun authorities and perhaps outwit the man’s employer.
From this fairly anonymous, action-based first half, a rich interpersonal drama emerges, further showcasing Winterbottom’s dazzling command of different genres. As abductor and abductee become closer and it seems she can be trusted and that he will indeed let down his guard for her, the director crafts one of those rare cinematic razor’s edges of suspense where the story could credibly go either way — a gift to viewers craving such well-conceived filmmaking in a year that’s largely lacked it thus far.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Starts March 29 at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: IFC Films)