Wish You Were Here (2012)

Wish_You_Were_Here_filmWritten by: Kieran Darcy-Smith and Felicity Price

Directed by: Kieran Darcy-Smith

Setting: Australia and Cambodia

Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton) and his pregnant wife, Alice (Felicity Price), have taken a spontaneous vacation to Cambodia with Alice’s sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and her new boyfriend Jeremy (Antony Starr).

Alice and Dave return home to Australia and resume life with their two young children. However, we quickly sense that something is very wrong. Somewhere between lounging beside the ocean and moonlit parties, Jeremy went missing. As his three friends try to figure out what happened to him, the tension escalates and painful secrets are revealed.

Joel-Edgerton-Wish-You-Were-Here-Teresa-Palmer

The story is told through a series of flashbacks — rapidly jolting back and forth between the past and present. While I generally enjoy films with non-linear timelines and liberal use of flashbacks, it felt somewhat disjointed. This made it more difficult for me to connect with the characters. This was a problem, since I didn’t find them likable to begin with.

On the other hand, the film quickly drew me in with the lavish scenery, gorgeous cinematography, and striking use of color. It is cleverly plotted and suspenseful, and the abrupt shifts between past and present feel more fluid as the movie progresses. And the final twist — when we learn the truth about why Jeremy didn’t return home — Egads! It was definitely not what I expected.

The performances are excellent, and the characters do become a bit more compelling as we approach the end of the movie. I love the way the filmmakers make us experience Dave’s mounting paranoia and terror. These scenes are disorienting and confusing — in a good way. And subsequent revelations explain this odd behavior.

Despite some elements that made it more difficult for me to warm up to this film, it is vibrant, well-crafted, and skillfully acted — a good pick for suspense movie aficionados.

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