Wish You Were Here Reviews
"Wish You Were Here" is a well-acted and modest psychological mystery that works as well it does thanks to an unsettling vibe and half a neat mystery. Once that has been resolved, my only question remains why people behave so recklessly on vacation like they do in this movie when they are on very unfamiliar turf.
Wish You Were Here deviates between focusing on the investigation of the disappearance of Jeremy King and the resulting effects it had on the characters after. Is structure was intriguing because it meant that the mystery of the film was slowly uncovered while the characters had to cope with their current situation. This meant that the mystery of the film unfolded at an interesting pace which gave the story a gentle movement, and at a running time of 93 minutes it never overstays its welcome. But the issue is that the story is not always engaging. When it focuses on the mystery of the film and the flashbacks to what all happened, it peaked my interest. But when it changed to the individual subplots relating to what the characters were facing as a result of their actions on their Southeast Asian holiday, it slowed down and decreased in interest. A lot of the subplots in Wish You Were Here rely on melodrama or sentimentality, and they are just not as interesting as the thrilling mystery at the core of the film and prove to just make the film drag on a bit. The gradual pace of the narrative is good because the slow burning heart of the film is engaging and gives the film the appropriate sense of movement and development, but the issue that comes with the slow pace is the fact that it is not always interesting. And a film which is both slow moving and fails to grasp a fully interesting series of plot dynamics is not the best form of entertainment. There are a lot of things to enjoy about Wish You Were Here, such as the characters and Kieran Darcy-Smith's thoughtful and intelligent screenplay. But in terms of narrative, the central premise is weighed down by subplots in the story and the melodrama that surrounds it.
Wish You Were Here is a lot like the 2011 Australian tv series The Slap based on the novel of the same name, because that series evenly focused on the aftermath of a traumatic event as it affected the lives of multiple characters. The difference between the structured these stories is that The Slap focused individually on 8 characters and what they experienced after the event as well as how it affected their lives in the aftermath. With Wish You Were Here, the film focuses primarily on protagonist Dave Flannery and the relationship with his pregnant wife Alice which changes after her sister Steph McKinney engages in adultery with Dave and her boyfriend goes missing. As the characters begin to piece together the mystery of what happened, Wish You Were Here goes into an interesting exploration of everything that the characters can remember or have gone through. But when it deals with the melodramatic subplot of the extramarital affair committed by Dave Flannery, it just isn't interesting. The mysterious premise of the film is more fascinating than the characters, and while the cast contribute what they can, it is the story which is engaging and not the individual characters themselves.
But Wish You Were Here does bring a lot of promise to the screen for Kieran Darcy-Smith. The screenplay he crafts for the film is great, and he contributes even more to the role of director by giving the film a stylish touch. Thanks to a lot of strong scenery and some atmospheric cinematography, everything in Wish You Were Here looks good and comes off as convincing and stylish which pays a lot of credit to Kieran Darcy-Smith as a filmmaker.
And as expected, the cast of the film give it their all.
Joel Edgerton's leading performance in Wish You Were Here is excellent. Tying the film together, Joel Edgerton delivers an emotionally intense leading performance which commands the screen. Joel Edgerton fits the profile of his role correctly because his emotions are the fine line between clear and subtle, and his line delivery is appropriately tense. Joel Edgerton's performance is one which constantly suggests that he has something to hide, and it encourages audiences to stay focused on him in an effort to find out what it is. He is easily solid in the part and constantly interacts with the surrounding cast members with natural dramatic talent and therefore creates a firm and engaging chemistry with everyone. Joel Edgerton takes on the leading role of Dave Flannery really well in Wish You Were Here, and he remains so involved in the character that it serves as another reminder of how great an actor he is.
The unknown Felicity Price also makes a fine leading performer. Sharing an intense chemistry with Joel Edgerton, Felicity Price turns in a performance which is rich with passionate dedication to the dramatic material of the film and sympathy. As her character faces the burden of her husband's extramarital affair as well as having to face the disappearance of her sister's boyfriend, she is arguably the most sympathetic character of the story. And while she is perhaps not given as much screen time as she could have been, she makes a compelling case in a performance which makes use of her ability to interact with Joel Edgerton very well. Felicity Price makes use of a lot of powerful dramatic charisma in Wish You Were Here, and her leading performance really makes a name for her and brings her talent to the attention of audiences.
Teresa Palmer turns in a strong supporting effort in Wish You Were Here, and Antony Starr's small amount of screen time shows him facing some really challenging dramatic situations as an actor which he is able to take advantage of.
So Wish You Were Here has a powerful cast, strong dedication from writer-director Kieran Darcy-Smith and an interesting mystery at the heart of the story. But it becomes weighed down by deviating between that and the less interesting character subplots of the film against the slow pace of the story.