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The Wedding Guest Review – TIFF 2018 – Lazy and Half-Baked

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The Wedding Guest Cast & Crew:

Cast: Dev Patel, Radhika Apte, Jim Sarbh

Director-screenwriter: Michael Winterbottom

Producers: Melissa Parmenter, Michael Winterbottom, Deepak Nayar, Nik Bower, Dev Patel

Executive producers: Andrea Scarso, Peter Touche, Norman Merry

Director of photography: Giles Nuttgens

Music: Harry Escott

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (Special Presentation)


The Wedding Guest is actually a 1916 film, which is known for its critical elements. Michael Winterbottom has taken the responsibility of bringing this film to the audience through the contemporary paradigm. The film has been presented at TIFF, recently to receive both acclaims as well as criticism from people. Dev Patel, who starred in the infamous Slumdog Millionaire, The Man who knew Infinity, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the Oscar-nominated Lion; leads this movie as a man who reaches Pakistan in order to kidnap a woman. Dev kidnaps this woman in order to prevent her from the unwanted marriage which is going to happen on the same day.

Michael Winterbottom is an English filmmaker known for making films by taking the original versions and giving them a modern touch. He has begun working for the television before entering into the film world and has required an eminent fame across the world. Out of all the films he has made, three of them have been nominated for Palme d’Or.  Some of his critical films include Jude, 9 Songs, I want you etc. His latest flick ‘The Wedding Guest’ has been played at TIFF 2018, where the film is shown as a package of classic noir elements.

The reason Dev kidnaps the woman is that of his need for money which leads to a series of events including road trips, hotel rooms, and the raw chemistry between the leads. The backdrop of Indian and Pakistani locations represents the change in the culture, the diversity as well as the cultural ethnicity. However, the screenplay looks unpolished and rough, because of the sourness in all the attitudes of the characters. In case if you want to detail all the commercial elements of the movie, you will be amazed to see none in it.

Winterbottom is known to shoot through the world but we can only see the food trips of him with Rob Brydon and Steven Coogan. These guys give us some amusing dialogues which are why we forget the monotonous locations or the flatness of the tale. Dev Patel plays the character of Jay, a solitary figure who is known for projecting is aura in the film. He is based in the United Kingdom but travels all the way to Pakistan where he buys a couple of guns in order to make a trip. He enters into the marriage of a young woman, Samira in order to kidnap her. Samira, who is forced into the marriage, follows him willingly. Their journey is filled with deaths without remorse and chases that result in violence.

The Westerners who are not willing to take the road trip crosses the Pakistan-India border while passing through the remote areas. The director failed to create interest in showing these unique locations and this made the film, lazy. However, few locations of Delhi and the beach resort where the couple has a romantic encounter thrill us. We are not yet sure whether this movie is similar to the Indian film, Highway where the two leads share the Stockholm-syndrome. While Samira being glad to be kidnapped is an interesting thing, rest of the plat seems to be passionless and lacks emotional essence. We don’t hear a lot of ramifications in the movie as well other than the news story which displays the disappearance of Samira after she is kidnapped by Jay.

The screenplay of the movie is half-baked, which is why it doesn’t clearly set the drama on the screen. The characters in the film are flawed when we look at the outline. Dev, who is shown to kill someone doesn’t feel any kind of remorse that haunts him. He seems empty and doesn’t have a problem with working with the weapons. The director also fails in introducing his background to us, which is why we don’t know his intention behind kidnap. If his intention is to keep the character cipher, he should have known that it also brought alot of boredom as well. Samira’s story is shown in bits and pieces covering a few abstract elements which are why we feel that something more should have come from her. Liberated from the marriage, she is now free and wants to explore the freedom. The main complaint about Winterbottom is that he did not water this garden well and the flowers have worn out.

Few elements that have attracted the film are the locations, the crowds, the roads, the long drives, the districts, the hotels, the dangerous elements, and the aging trains. Winterbottom has managed to document the wanderlust like Imtiaz Ali where the skeletal story unlike him, did not match with it. His attitude reminds us of Anthony Bourdain as well but fails to deliver what is expected.


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