Review: THE WEDDING GUEST Is A Predictable But Otherwise Solid Thriller

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Dev Patel as “Jay” in Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

The Wedding Guest is a new thriller written and directed by Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, The Killer Inside Me). The film tells the story of a British man with mysterious intentions who travels to Pakistan to kidnap a bride-to-be, sending him on the run across South Asia. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

One of the key issues with this movie is that it is relatively predictable. You can tell from the beginning that things aren’t what they seem to be, and the direction in which they end up going can be easily anticipated from the beginning. Regardless, the film is still effective and enjoyable to watch because of the inherent intensity in the story.

The movie does a solid job of building suspense despite the fact that the plot is mostly predictable. Even though the destination is fairly obvious, it is fun to go along for the ride. The events of the film are intriguing, and the appeal is not in figuring out what is happening, but why it is happening. If you can get involved in that mystery, you can get involved in the movie as a whole.

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Dev Patel as “Jay” in Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

Perhaps the biggest strength of the film is its tone. Winterbottom’s recent work includes the Trip trilogy, which is a series of comedies that became progressively deeper with each entry. The Wedding Guest is quite thoughtful, and while it may not be as complex as the rest of Winterbottom’s filmography, it still raises some interesting questions about a few societal issues.

The characters in the movie are interesting. Normally, their seeming lack of development would be considered a shortcoming, but this seems to be purposeful to create ambiguity in the character’s morals. Even though the protagonist does some things that aren’t particularly likable, he is sympathetic as a whole because of other aspects of his personality.

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Dev Patel as “Jay” in Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

This film is driven primarily by the performance of Dev Patel. He gives one of the best performances of his already accomplished career in the movie, adding a lot of nuance to the character. His turn is very subtle compared to the flashier performances of some of the actors and actresses in the supporting cast.

The film is also solidly made on a technical level. For the most part, the cinematography is pretty good, with a lot of interesting shots that help build the suspense. The first twenty minutes, in which the protagonist is preparing to act, stand out the most. These scenes are shot in a somewhat surreal way that creates further mystery and intrigue as to what is happening.

Overall, The Wedding Guest was an effective thriller from director Michael Winterbottom. Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, the movie is a quick and interesting watch that is definitely worth your time.

The Wedding Guest opens in theaters March 1.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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