Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A helping of neo-noir set in India

Director Michael Winterbottom keeps an audience in the dark for long stretches of The Wedding Guest, a thriller in which a mysterious Englishman (Dev Patel) is hired to spirit a woman (Radhika Apte) away from an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Apte's Samira definitely does not want to participate in such a marriage, but she's in for a surprise when she arrives in New Delhi. She's supposed to be delivered to her boyfriend Deepesh (Jim Sarbh), the guy who paid for her abduction. He has other ideas. I've already told you too much about the plot because there are two principal pleasures to be gained from Winterbottom's The Wedding Guest. The first involves discovering the noirish twists buried in a story that explores the limits of trust and the way men may underestimate women. The second involves the movie's inadvertent function as a travelogue with Patel and Apte providing an excuse to explore various corners of Pakistan and India -- from Lahore to Delhi, Jaipur, and Goa. Film-savvy audiences soon will catch onto Winterbottom's attempts to earn neo-noir credentials as Patel and Apte's characters go on the run. Patel overdoes his character's pragmatic stoicism, and I eventually tired of the waiting game that Winterbottom plays with us. We know there will be betrayals, but the characters and their stories never prove quite as rich as the backdrops against which Winterbottom watches their fates unfold.

No comments: