Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wish You Were Here

When I walked out of Kieren Darcy-Smith's film Wish You Were Here last Monday I wasn't sure I liked the film. The ending was unsatisfying. Key scenes were absent. I was waiting for punctuation and clarity and in its place had to make do with some truncated scenes and elliptical storytelling. But more than anything I felt deeply agitated by the tragedy that unfolded over that 90 minutes.

People would ask, 'Good film?' and I'd reply. 'Yeah', only it was with a raised inflection. But the longer I think on it, the more I like it. I'm pretty sure the reason I was so fixated initially on the ending was because I needed something to lock onto. I felt upset so I became upset with the ending. What's that? Transference?

Anyhoo. It's been called a thriller but I think it's closer to a family drama with mystery in the mix. It has a wonderful sense of place, rich in detail whether it is Sydney or Cambodia. Each and every setting offers some  kind of delight: from an elephant walking down a street to the patina of a lived-in home crowded with the bibs and bobs of small children. It has beautiful cinematography by Jules O'Loughlin who keeps the camera close to the actors without crowding. It gives the film an easy sense of naturalism that is backed by its central performances.

Okay, so the ending is not entirely well realised. That's okay. It had Sydney, its harbour, split streets and curving roads. I Wish I Was There.

Wish You Were Here is in cinemas now.

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