Review: It’s Heartbreak And Hotels In ‘The Wedding Guest’

“The Wedding Guest” begin innocently enough with a man at an airport trying to catch a flight. Dev Patel, known for his work in “Slumdog Millionaire,” plays a character charged with the task of kidnapping a bride-to-be. Upon his arrival in Pakistan, he goes about picking up various kidnapping essentials like pistols, duct tape and zip ties. It’s clear this man intends to do something much more sinister at this wedding than just drink too much.

Directed by Michael Winterbottom, “The Wedding Guest” has all the fundamental (perhaps cliched) elements of a film noir: a mysterious man of few words on the run, guns aplenty, overnight stays at seedy motels and a doe-eyed femme fatale. Once he abducts his mark, she reveals that she wanted to be kidnapped to save herself from a loveless, arranged marriage. The story evolves into a Bonnie and Clyde plot involving counterfeit gems, stolen-identities, romance and murder. Though the two meet in a small, nondescript village in Pakistan, their travels take them on an international journey that comes to a dramatic end at the Southern tip of India. The film is set to hit theaters on March 1.

The plot and pacing of “The Wedding Guest” leaves a lot to be desired. When the two fall in love, the duo often end up staring lovingly into each other’s eyes in bed. But, there’s no real explanation as to why these two even got so attached. For a movie that’s about a kidnapping, “The Wedding Guest” is a slow burn. The film is full of pregnant pauses and dramatic looks exchanged between the two lovebirds that ultimately slow the overall pace of the movie.

The thing that saves “The Wedding Guest” is not Patel’s six-pack, but the filming locations. The movie presents a real, unpolished look at the Indian and Pakistani countryside. From crowded city streets that are reminiscent of Hong Kong, to palm tree-pocked beaches, the scenery is absolutely stunning. It’s a side of India that just isn’t shown in the polished world of  Bollywood.

Though this is indeed a fresh take on the film noir genre, “The Wedding Guest” ultimately relies on clichés to advance its formulaic storyline. In spite of its beautiful cinematography and striking visuals, “The Wedding Guest” is just another movie about heartbreak.