Wish You Were Here

| September 9, 2013

Sisters Alice and Steph (Felicity Price and Teresa Palmer respectively), Alice’s husband Dave (Joel Edgerton; Warrior) and Steph’s new boyfriend Jeremy (Antony Starr) are all on vacation in Cambodia.  While there, Jeremy goes missing mysteriously, leaving the others with no idea of what happened to him.  Alice and Dave have to return home to take care of their children, while Steph remains behind to look for him, but she ultimately has to return home too to face other emotional turmoils.

The best word I could use to describe this film is average.  There’s nothing about it that stands out as extraordinary, but on the other hand there’s nothing about it that stands out as awful either.  I’m becoming a big fan of Joel Edgerton’s work, and he brings a lot of subtext to his silent portrayal of Dave here that I like.  The rest of the characters are more difficult to pin down.  Alice is pregnant and being forced to go through some difficult choices, but her character never feels grounded in reality; she shifts emotionally from moment to moment in way that feels unbelievable.  Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) probably should have been given more screen time to develop her character as much as the other two, but most of what we see of her is in the flashbacks of the group’s vacation, and we don’t get much of her dealing with the aftermath of the trip.

The timeline of this can get very confusing.  For a long time, I thought we were jumping between two chronological timelines; one in Cambodia and one afterwards, but those two timelines also jump around in time and the narrative gets a bit muddy and difficult to follow at times.  Jumps in time withing a given timeline cause the aforementioned emotional swings in the characters and make it difficult to take them seriously or relate to them on a personal level.

I have no idea why the film is called Wish You Were Here.  It’s a very generic title that may clue the audience that this is about a vacation, but it does nothing to establish the kind of film that the audience is going to watch.  I might have expected a more light-hearted family drama about these four people celebrating life in an exotic land until I actually watched the near melodramatic missing person story with awkward thriller elements scattered throughout.

Special features include a behind the scenes featurette, and interviews with the cast and crew.  Available on DVD from Entertainment One on September 10.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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