Film Review – Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here (MA)

Directed by: Kieran Darcy-Smith

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price, Antony Starr

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

We have all seen how nightmarish holidays can be with the recent slew of vacationers in peril films such as the Hostel series, Wolf Creek, The Ruins and Turistas. Film makers have had a field day in showing us how something that is supposed to be joyous can go from bad to worse. Anything that could go wrong, has gone wrong for the unsuspecting backpackers in these films and pretty much every horrific situation explored. They sure make you think twice before booking that dream holiday. How has the tourism industry not collapsed?

Wish You Were Here covers similar territory – minus the bloodbath, body parts and ear-piercing shrieks – in which four Australians go on a spontaneous trip to Cambodia. Things don’t go to plan for these seemingly innocent people just out for a good time. But instead, the focus is not the horrors of what happened on the trip, but how it tears those who returned home apart.

Told in flashback fashion, we are introduced to married couple Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice Flannery (Felicity Price) who have just come home from an overseas holiday in south-east Asia. But something is not quite right. They look more exhausted and drained than people who have been off for a bit of R an R. Alice’s sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) has stayed back. Her boyfriend Jeremy (Antony Starr) has gone missing without a trace.

Not only is Wish You Were Here a mystery that is skillfully unraveled by writing duo and married couple Felicity Price and Kieran Darcy-Smith (who also served as director), but a heartbreaking character study of three people dealing with a puzzling disappearance. Once home, the whole ordeal weighs on those who were there but have no idea what happened to their friend or how he have possibly disappeared into thin air. As it turns out, someone knows more than they are letting on and it is proving to create more problems.

Dave and Alice’s relationship, already strained by their troublesome two children and financial woes, suffers even further and Steph is left to grieve on her own. But as the story develops, and we are drip fed information, more layers are revealed until the devastating conclusion.

Unlike the recent The Lucky One, in which the story suffered from a character unbelievably and unrealistically withholding key information to drive a weak plot, here the plot device adds to the story and characters. There are always times in films where you just want to slap the character who just wont speak up and say “Why don’t you just tell them?!” In the final minutes, it makes sense here. It might prompt you to put that next overseas adventure on hold but seeing Wish You Were Here is a moving and rewarding experience.

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