Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wish You Were Here

Kieran Darcy-Smith's Aussie import "Wish You Were Here" introduces us to Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (co-writer Felicity Price), a happily married Sydney couple with two kids and a third on the way. Money's tight - or will be soon - but Alice convinces Dave they should take a vacation trip to Cambodia with her sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and Steph's rich new boyfriend Jeremy. The movie opens with a cryptic scene of Dave, stripped of his clothes, walking alone through a field overgrown with weeds. Shortly after, we learn that Jeremy has gone missing.

The movie alternates between what-happened-to-Jeremy mystery and the domestic melodrama - complete with extramarital activity - between Alice and Dave. Neither half works. Darcy-Smith doles out information as to Jeremy's disappearance so parsimoniously, the mystery half feels needlessly prolonged and ends rather unsatisfyingly with the introduction out of a nowhere of a disturbing thematic element that the film doesn't take time to explore. The more personal half - the portrait of a marriage threatened with collapse - has greater potential, but it too lacks momentum and never turns into much. Edgerton, so solid opposite Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty," has one big emotional scene to do, and flubs it. Price is more interesting. I look forward to seeing her in stronger films.

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