Acclaimed writer and director Michael Winterbottom is perhaps best known for his work in the comedy genre, but has stepped into a more abstruse field for his latest feature. The Wedding Guest is a mystery thriller set on a criminal’s journey between Pakistan and India. Armed with weaponry and a pile of fake IDs, Jay (Dev Patel) flies from Britain to track down bride-to-be Samira (Radhika Apte) ahead of her forthcoming nuptials. With unclear motives, he kidnaps the young woman in the dead of night, but the crepuscular job takes an unexpected turn.
No time is wasted in establishing the basic plot, and Jay’s meticulous actions take the form of a straightforward linear narrative. He buys a gun, he acquires gaffer tape, he hires a car…the intrigue isn’t in what he’s doing but in why. The camera makes strong use of the environments as the story zips through the frantic South Asian streets, but the lack of depth in the characters slowly begins to show as the writing gets lazy towards the final act. With minimal development in the background or motivations of the paper-thin protagonist, it becomes meaningless whether or not he succeeds in his sketchy plan.
Patel feels miscast as the brooding baddie but Indian actress Apte turns in a striking portrayal as streetwise Samira who, despite being the kidnapee, is far from the innocent victim of the piece. Often engaging but never exhilarating, Winterbottom’s meandering road movie never really settles into gear.
See the trailer: