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The Wedding Guest: When you hit it off with your boyfriend’s handler

Written by on 25th February 2019

Katharina Moos Bille

I know they say you find love when you least expect it, but finding it in the process of getting kidnapped as a front for you to get out of your arranged marriage and smuggled across country borders, seems highly unlikely. 

The Wedding Guest follows the emotionally distant Jay who is hired to smuggle Samira out of Pakistan by her boyfriend to escape marriage. 

A general laissez-faire approach to plausibility is one of the film’s harder selling points. Falsifying documents, evading police control points and crossing borders is a piece of cake, despite Samira’s kidnapping making international news. It’s also hard to believe Samira’s first thought after she’s been kidnapped as a smokescreen for her escape, is how handsome her handler is.

While Samira’s motivation is clear in wanting to escape the marriage, the main character Jay lacks a form of real motive. There is never any mention of his past and the tough facade put on for his one-man human smuggling mission only gets a minor dent in it, as he lets his guard down for some romance amidst smuggling. The lack of depth in the character meant the film felt a little meatless. 

As much as the script lacked substance, Dev Patel (Jay) and Radhika Apte (Samira) as the main actors on a sparse cast-list can be credited for carrying the story as close to the finish line as they possible, flexing every acting muscle in their bodies. 

For a thriller, the plot lacked many of the obvious suspenseful moments. One might have expected a drawn-out scene of a suspicious border control guard, but it never came. However, it was clearly shot and edited for the genre. With fast-paced editing and the backdrop of the overpopulated cities of Pakistan and India made for a busy background and soundscape, making scenes more dynamic than the plot begged for.

The beauty of the actors and re-run of ‘woman strength breaks man’s hard emotional facade’ wasn’t enough in the thrillerless thriller. The Wedding Guest banked on the dynamics of its geographical location, which unfortunately resulted in a product that fast-tracked idea where no one had bothered to ask about the details. 

Tickets were provided by Glasgow Film Festival. 

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