A supposedly fun movie I’ll never see again | Daily News


A supposedly fun movie I’ll never see again

Just like Sonny and Cher, gyrating amusement park rides, and eating an entire plate of cheese kottu in one sitting-‘Destination Wedding’ seems like a really good idea at first, but is quickly revealed to be a complete disaster.

‘Destination Wedding’ is an indie film, shot in less than 10 days with a $1 million budget. That way, it’s extraordinary and praiseworthy to have big-name stars like Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder teaming up for their fourth time on screen to take part in the writer and director Victor Levin’s eccentric and ambitious project. Unfortunately, however, ‘Destination Wedding,’ felt like a chore to watch.

Ryder and Reeves play nihilistic misanthropes, Lindsay and Frank, who meet at a wedding they probably shouldn’t have attended, seeing as they both hate the groom. Lindsay is the ex-fiancée of the groom, who sued him after their break-up, and Frank is the groom’s grumpy, estranged brother. Levin seemed to challenge the typical romantic comedy structure, and accepted notions of romance in general, which, on the surface, sounds like a pretty good idea. Levin’s artistic vision might have channeled the Hollywood romantic comedies of the 1950s or 60s, written more as a play than a movie. But the characters lacked an essential charm, and displayed inadequate wit to make their deadening outlooks engaging.

The movie starts in an airport, where Lindsay and Frank’s first interaction immediately devolves into bickering: she thinks he has stepped in line in front of her, and he thinks she is annoying. They are seated next to each other on the plane, and learn that they are to attend the same destination wedding in Paso Robles, California.

The two are continually thrown together, taking the same shuttle to their hotel, given adjacent hotel rooms, and seated side-by-side at the rehearsal dinner. At one point they muse whether they are being set up by the bride and groom (though it may be more likely that the bride and groom didn’t know what else to do with their most unlikable guests).

Lindsay and Frank argue about everything-from the nature of a Destination Wedding, to the exorbitant cost of food in the hotel mini-bar, to which one of them is a worse person and who hates themselves more, to who hates the bride and groom more, and what constitutes political and cultural insensitivity. Simultaneously, their chatter usually ignores how they are insensitive to everything and everyone around them, making little concessions to their own narcissism. At one point, Frank says, “We’re all tired, trite, trivial, tiresome, tone-deaf narcissists.” His argument fails to recognise the degrees of that narcissism, which he particularly seems to suffer from.

What makes this ranting exhausting is not only the subject of those rants, but the fact that Frank and Lindsay are the only characters who speak the entire film (literally, just those two). Their dialogue was interspersed-thankfully-by banda-style music playing to the scenery of Southern California’s bucolic wine country. Because Levin wrote a script where every word matters, it seems foolish that the dialogue was as loquacious and fast-paced as it was. When the dialogue did slow down, highlighting an important line here or there, it served to further isolate the characters from everyone else around them, including the audience: “I’ve missed every possible sexual revolution, including Tindr,” says Frank. “Why do we live Frank?” replies Lindsay.

Eventually, the two become drunk and self-pitying enough that they begin to fall for each other. This leads to an almost unbearable sex-scene that was like watching a train wreck in slow motion: you can’t take your eyes away. After running from a mountain lion or a cougar (or a lynx, or a panther, because they have no idea and have apparently never seen a wild animal before) and tumbling down a dry, grassy hill, Lindsay and Frank kiss. The first time, they agree is a mistake. They kiss again, another mistake, and the third time they start doing other things as well, talking non-stop about what a bad idea it is, and how long it’s been, and how they don’t have a condom, and even though Lindsay is worried about getting pregnant, she says it really couldn’t make her life any worse than it already is. The scene is truly baffling, so painful, you actually may laugh.

Towards the end of the film, Lindsay reveals herself as an increasingly optimistic character, intent (for no apparent reason, other than that they are both unlikable) on falling in love with Frank. Frank reveals himself as a questioning fundamentalist, a misanthrope who is surprised to hate Lindsay a little less than everyone else. While in bed together at the hotel, he remarks upon the symmetry of her face and the circumference of her ankles, and Lindsay says that he is really good looking too. When they leave Paso Robles, their last spar has Lindsay arguing that they keep in touch and extend the affair a little longer, and Frank asks what the point of that would be.

Recently, Levin did an interview with the U.S. newspaper, ‘The Washington Post,’ where he was asked if he himself had an aversion to destination weddings. He replied, “I’m happy to go and honored to be invited, but there’s a certain self-importance to it, is there not?” Well, that’s how the movie ‘Destination Wedding’ played out as well. Everyone is happy to go and watch Ryder and Reeves, but Levin’s characters and script, no matter who acted them, were just too self-important to appreciate. 

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