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Wish You Were Here movie review: vivid and disjointed dramatics

Infidelity, drugs, violence, car crashes, betrayal, sordid secrets and dingy bars where unspeakable acts take place behind beaded curtains.

No, not the One Direction crew a decade from now (boom tish) but the tumultuous soul-sucking events that enflame the lives of a group of Aussies on holiday in Cambodia in writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith’s Wish You Were Here.

One ecstasy-infused party night turns into a horror ride after Jeremy (Antony Starr) goes missing, setting the groundwork for a film that could be used as on the plane viewing to frighten potentially rambunctious tourists into lives of celibacy and sobriety. 

The film’s swirling nonlinear storyline spits out essential information in short selective bursts, meaning the audience have little understanding of the tricky circumstances surrounding husband and wife Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (Felicity Price) until well into the film. We also have little grasp of their motivations until well into the film, little connection with them until well into the film and little comprehension of why Joel Edgerton looks eight shades of grey until, yes, well into the film.

For a long time the nonlinear structure dilutes the impact of a bunch excellent performances, led by Edgerton’s seasick glare, the countenance of a man who has screwed up a few too many times and Seen Things. There are some fidgety directorial flourishes, such as distracting handheld camera work, which also detracts from the film’s impact.

Eventually Wish You Were Here comes together, and when it does audiences will locked into a bracing and visceral experience. The last third has powerful and shocking moments shaped with precision and oomph.

Kieran Darcy-Smith has delivered a spectacular downer, disjointed and visually rambling but immensely vivid, and a great showcase of local talent.

Wish You Were Here’s Australian theatrical release date: April 26, 2012. 

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    kolah
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Disagree, Luke. The performances alone warrant rushing to this movie. Terrific script, some lovely relationship moments embedded in a gripping mystery. Yes, the structure requires some attention but it’s great to have a movie that treats you like a thinking adult. Having just returned from a holiday in Cambodia, the authenticity is another of this film’s many strengths.

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