The Wedding Guest Review - A Pulsating, International, Thriller

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The Wedding Guest, from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and IFA, brings to the screen a story of the clash of cultures, a daring midnight pre-wedding rescue gone bad, breaking century old traditions, and life on the run.

Directed and written by Michael Winterbottom, The Wedding Guest stars Dev Patel, Radhika Apte, Harish Khanna, Nish Nathwani, Meherbaan Singh, and Sidhu Manpreet.

The film opens with Jay, played by Dev Patel, a British Muslim packing for what looks like a weekend trip. When he drops several passports into the suitcase, we understand the trip is not quite the peaceful excursion to the shore.

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We follow him through the airport, security, until he lands in Pakistan, the anticipation building as he makes several stops, renting a car, purchasing several handguns, buys zip ties and duct tape, suddenly the film has taken a still unknown but ominous turn. Covering his tracks, he stops and rents a second car.

Traveling to the countryside he finally arrives as his destination. A small town in the middle of nowhere Pakistan, where traditions rule and women are a commodity, bought and sold in a modern-day slave trade.

On this night the town is celebrating the upcoming nuptials of Samira, played by Radihika Apte. Her father has secured a good price.

For some still unknown plan, Jay creeps into Samira's home and kidnaps her. With Samira in the trunk, we still have no idea why she has been taken. As the highway diverges to Islamabad and then on to India, one final question from Jay solidifies the next phase.

"What do you want?" He asks and finally we have a clearer picture as she replies, "I don't want to be married."

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The Wedding Guest shifts at this point as Jay, we find out, is being paid by a university friend of Samira's to rescue her from this prison her family decided was the best for her. What follows as the two navigate the shadowy underworlds and hidden realms of Pakistan and India.

Jay, who only want to deliver the package and collect his final payment, didn't count on Samira's parents using the media to find their daughter. Now he has to keep Samira until he receives payment and can escape back to London.

Despite his cool efficiency, and all his precautions and planning, the plot quickly spirals out of control, sending Jay and his hostage on the run across the border and through the railway stations, back alleys, and black markets of New Delhi, as all the while attractions simmer, loyalties shift, and explosive secrets are revealed.

The Wedding Guest has a magnetic pull as the story slowly unfolds. The audience is taken on this trip into New Delhi, where around every corner trouble is expected. Filmed on location, the film pulsates with the sights and sounds of the Indian subcontinent.

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Dev Patel turns in a cool, calculated and cunning performance, as Jay the guy who for a price will rescue a friend's former girlfriend from tradition. He makes evil look heroic. The small bursts of emotions reflect the simmering volcano under the surface. His performance shows a depth and darkness that he rarely has the opportunity to present.

Radhika Apte, a well-known international actress, is best known to American audiences through the Netflix series Ghoul. She brings to her role in The Wedding Guest, the duality of cat and mouse, pursued and aggressor, deciding when to turn the tables, change the loyalties. She subtlety shifts the control, from obediently following to leading and controlling. Her performance is memorable.

Directed by Michael Winterbottom who brought the comedic Road Trip The Trip to Italy and The Trip to Spain, with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, also Trishna, A Tragic Love Story that explores the traditions and enslavement's women in third world countries face. 

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The Wedding Guest fills the screen with a colorful world where danger lurks at every turn and nothing is as it seems. Take an international excursion through the back roads of Pakistan, crossing borders, and on to India and the countryside, the modern world of New Delhi where all live and few accept.

The Wedding Guest opens March 1, 2019. Check local listings. See this film.


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