“Destination Wedding” (2018)
Running Time: 85 minutes
Written and Directed by: Victor Levin
Featuring: Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves
Lindsay:“Why didn’t we meet seven years ago?”
Frank:“Just lucky I guess.”
“Destination Wedding” (2018) released this month on DVD is an unusual movie, a romantic comedy featuring two stars of the past reunited onscreen after twenty years, last appearing together in “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009), in Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves who both give very good performances in a movie that while not perfect I found to be a fun watch as well as having just enough originality for me to recommend to others. For anyone that has ever seen a rom-com there will be little surprise in the actual narrative as well as plot, if there is one thing that is apparent this is not going to be an original movie. The fact that it isn’t original is not a negative at all as this movie has been written expressly for the dialogue, the two lead characters as well as a chance to spend almost ninety minutes with the same characters experiencing what they do through conversation, sometimes jammed together but if you are on-board from the beginning of the movie this should not bother you in the slightest.
Any prospective viewer should make no mistake this is a micro budget feature that actually has only two actors making up the entire cast with no other speaking parts for anyone else, in fact there are few other actors even featured in the same frame as the two principles, which not reflects the budget but the aesthetic the writer/director was going for in the first place. It is not completely unusual for movies to have a small cast, a movie that sprung to mind immediately was the under rated Gus Van Sant two hander “Gerry” (2002). However here the difference is that this is a (somewhat) comedy, which means it does not attempt to keep the audience engaged through genre plot devices, it needs to stand on the two elements, the performances of the leads as well as the quality of the dialogue. Over the decades Keanu Reeves has taken chances with his career appearing in a wide variety of movies that audiences might be surprised to see him in, this one is no surprise and he embraces the role of someone who on the surface is abrasive and unlikeable. However what is a surprise is to see Winona Ryder playing a character that on the surface is unlikable as well but has something deeper going on as well. It is also a welcome sight to actually see Ryder onscreen as she has made sporadic appearances in movies as a support role not a lead, here she is most definitely a co-lead and plays the part very well.
“Destination Wedding” has been written and directed by Victor Levin who it should be said has much more experience in writing than directing which shows in this new movie, as it is all conversation and little else, in fact the movie is so well set out with its mise en scène, narrative and plot that the direction takes care of itself which is a negative as well as a positive. This movie is so slight and intimate that if an audience has issues with appending time with two characters for almost an hour and half then this is not for them. However if you want to see two very good actors sparring for almost the entirety of a narrative then they will be richly rewarded as both Ryder and Reeves have some serious chemistry that pops onscreen elevating the material so that it does become fascinating for those interested.
“Destination Wedding” is based around Lindsay and Frank who are two strangers invited to Frank’s brother’s wedding in Paso Robles, California. While there, they get to know that they are more than strangers and share an equal level of irritableness and grief towards the world. However, under the thick cloud of exasperation the hopeless romantics slowly fall for each other.
I enjoyed this movie a lot it is the perfect watch for an afternoon where you want to spend some time with two quite unlikeable people who seem to be perfect for each other, the payoff comes when you realise that as soon as they meet they seem like an old married couple completely comfortable with each others foibles and eccentricities. Once you realise this you will be on-board or will hate it but it is rewarding to those that can see through its shortcomings.