August 12, 2019  (Web Review)

The Wedding Guest

IFC, 98 min., R, DVD: $24.98, Blu-ray: $29.98, Oct. 8

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Inscrutable Jay (Dev Patel) is an espionage expert who flies from London to Lahore, Pakistan, ostensibly to attend a wedding. But his real mission is to kidnap the bride, Samira (Bollywood actress Radhika Apte). Toting duct tape and multiple passports, Jay was hired by Samira’s lover Deepesh (Jim Sarbh) to save Samira from an arranged marriage to a wealthy Pakistani man she doesn’t love. But in his eagerness to abduct Samira and make a quick getaway, Jay kills a security guard, which changes everything. Fleeing from the police and irate Punjabi families using various rental cars, the pair become reluctant partners-in-crime. Crossing the border into India, stoic Jay is determined to look after Samira, a modern Middle Eastern woman bent on forging her own destiny, particularly when she discovers Deepesh’s reluctance to go on the lam with her. Unfortunately, writer-director Michael Winterbottom doesn’t flesh out his characters (viewers never learn their backstories), severely limiting any emotional involvement, so the result is somewhat listless and hollow, although the cinematography does effectively capture the pungent atmosphere of various India locations, including the crowded New Delhi streets and bucolic tranquility of Goa. A strong optional purchase. (S. Granger)