What’s It About? Debutante director Kieran Darcy-Smith directs Wish You Were Here with artistic prowess, showcasing an Aussie cast in a thriller where a group of city dwellers, craving escape, adventure to Cambodia on a week-long jaunt. After a whirlwind week of mesmeric dancing, the travellers return to Sydney – yet disaster strikes when the crew realise Jeremy (Anthony Starr) is missing.
Verdict: When married couple Alice (Felicity Price) and Dave (Joel Edgerton) land in Cambodia to meet Steph’s (Teresa Palmer) new boyfriend, Jeremy, audiences are envious of the hedonism on display. And late-night beach parties beguile us as deft camerawork creates an off-the-beaten-path and exotic impression. Kieran Darcy-Smith perfectly illustrates the appeal of escapism – Cambodia, here, is an adult playground.
Wish You Were Here uses a series of flashbacks as a means to clarify the sequence of events. Unfortunately, the film unravels to reveal a mundane and predictable storyline. Steph, Alice’s sister, falls hard for businessman Jeremy, a character who prior to disappearance had spoken of easy money to be made in the Far East. In the midst Jeremy’s bravado, something didn’t feel quite right. And following the disappearance, Steph reels in sadness, leaning on Alice for emotional support. When hours turn into days with no sign of the businessman, the group consult the authorities. But rather than turning knuckles white in anticipation, Darcy-Smith’s production merely drags. Though the characters panic, it is a real struggle to vest any interest in Jeremy’s whereabouts.
Eventually it materialises that one night, after the consumption of ecstasy, Dave and Steph illicitly slept together. Alice, devastated by the one-night stand, boots her philandering husband out the house. Despite protests of mistake from Dave and Steph, the affair ruptures love between the married couple. Darcy-Smith ploughs an impressive energy into scenes of character distress, and his arty shots signify shattered lives – but rather than prove poignant, the cinematography distracts from the dialogue. Excess editing, however, should not divert from Joel Edgerton’s performance, which effortlessly depicts Dave’s torment.
Despite the promising storyline, the result is merely dizzying. The story untangles to reveal a shocking reality, but the harrowing explanation irks in that Wish You Were Here took over 75 minutes to present a few interesting scenes. The thriller attempts to build suspense, but achieves only sluggishness – and the final scene, provides zilch satisfaction.
Final Words: Predictable and pedantic, Wish You Were Here persists veiling the film with a tasteless mash of events.