Hugh K. David: consultant, Teacher, writer, podcaster, OG Nerd, and certified Hustler of Culture. Taking time out from keeping up to date with all genre media, he’s running his well trained eye across the freshest of content for the Bunkazilla readers.
Frank (Keanu Reeves) and Lindsay (Winona Ryder) have a lot in common: they both hate the bride, the groom, the wedding, themselves, and most especially each other. For 72 hours, they are trespassers in paradise. But the weekend’s relentless events continually force them together, and if you fight with someone long enough, anything can happen. When the instinct to love proves very difficult to kill, they must decide which is stronger: their hearts or their common sense.
There are actually many different ways for creatives in the commercial arts to engage with nostalgia. There’s the MCU method, where every single film is measured up against STAR WARS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (Kevin Feige’s own personal standard, which he is on record stating) rather than attempting to break new ground; there’s the remake/reboot method, which is what Disney, Sony and even Blumhouse are pinning their quarterly profits on over the next few years; and finally, there’s writer/director Victor Levin’s method here.
Audience members of a certain age have been privileged as an audience to his particular brand of acid-tongued wit since HBO’s sitcom DREAM ON, although most will know his work most recently from acclaimed TV series MAD MEN. This new original feature offers two Gen X stars the best opportunity either of them have had in years for relevant adult dialogue, caustic wit and self-searching that ends up, thanks to having to address then cut through the thick layers of cynicism the characters protect themselves with, being genuinely affecting. although your mileage may vary with regards to that latter point depending on your age and background.
In pairing Ryder and Reeves for the fourth film together in their careers (although in one their characters never met), one can see how a certain obvious nostalgia was intended to be invoked. However, the film transcends this, allowing Ryder to be the unfettered comedic actress she hasn’t been seen as for some time now, while Reeves parodies both his public persona and his best-known movie characters, at times sounding like the worst kind of internet troll yet even then finding the humanity in Frank. It’s surprisingly laugh-out-loud for the most part, barring the later scenes where real connections are attempted between the characters, and is so focused as a two-hander it could have been a stage play, were it not for the excellent composition and framing of both in- and outdoors, taking full advantage of the aspect ratio.
Beautiful to look at in every sense, Levin has made sure that the external balances nicely with the cynical interior lives and existentialist dread expressed by the characters, adding a nice metaphorical layer to the visuals. Whether it really becomes, in Ryder’s words in one interview, an anti-rom-com, is debatable, as it plays with the features of the genre even as it discusses and subverts them but never truly escapes them. No matter; this is the kind of excellent small movie that streaming is somehow keeping alive as studios pursue giant sure bets only, and is to be applauded for all it attempts as well as how much it succeeds at.
Video & Audio
Poor video indeed, mostly due to compression issues – almost all the aerial inserts (presumably drone-shot) noticeably break up on screen, while large halos in broad lighting around the stars are clearly visible in many scenes. Indistinct details are also an issue, especially around Keanu’s face (his John Wick beard often looks like a tide of brown sludge).
Audio is available in two options, but even in 5.1 has been mixed in such a way that the fast-paced dialogue is sometimes indistinct. By not providing subtitles either, it means that dialogue can be missed, which is a ridiculous way to release a talky comedy like this. Frankly, check out the streaming options first before you opt for this disc.
A trailer is all that’s provided. You’ll have to go to Youtube for the stars on their PR tour for any kind of background info.
The film finds connection and meaning in the very things that certain types in Euro-based societies purport to be mere social programming and irrelevant to their lives. It is most certainly not a film for everyone, a sort of cynical adult take on the sort of two-hander Linklater perfected and explored in the BEFORE… TRILOGY, but for those who connect with it, there’s a good mix of decent laughs, knowing grins, possible shock at some outrageous statements and the joy of seeing two of U.S. cinema’s most attractive stars getting their acting chops around proper dramatic challenges, including one of the most delightfully awkward sex scenes put on film in some time.
Hugh K. David
Destination Wedding is available now on DVD and Digital Download
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Title: Destination Wedding
Written/directed by: Victor Levin
Label: Vertigo Releasing
Release date: 1st July 2019 (Digital Download from 21st June)
Format: DVD (also available as a Digital Download)
Video format: 480p PAL
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Soundtracks: DD 5.1, Stereo 2.0
Runtime: 86 mins
No. of discs: 1 x DVD-5 (srsly, if this is a DVD-9 then the Video/Audio comments above are too mild!)
Packaging: check disc only for review
Region Coding: Region 2
Rating: BBFC 15