WARNING: POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILERS IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE
Australians love to flock to Asia like the British to Bondi Beach on Christmas day. It’s an unofficial rite of passage for Australians to explore the region more than any other. Unfortunately, rather than respect the customs and beauty of places like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, most visitors decide to treat their trip like a sinful adventure. There is nothing wrong with letting loose while on a holiday but the members of the Bali Nine or Shapelle Corby might beg to differ when it comes to flaunting the law in Asian countries. ‘Wish You Were Here’ is a brilliant Australian film that examines Australians abroad, relationships and the consequences of having a bulletproof attitude when travelling.
Two Australian couples, Dave and Alice Flannery (Joel Edgerton and Felicity Price), and Steph McKinney (Teresa Palmer) and Jeremy King (Antony Starr) take a holiday to Cambodia. The trip doesn’t go to plan and only three of them return home as well as the mystery of what really happened.
Four outstanding performances make ‘Wish You Were’ here a captivating film. Palmer is perfect playing a carefree young traveller while Starr is great as the seasoned voyager. Edgerton and Price do an amazing job of making two very flawed and unlikable characters real enough for you to care. Both actors carry a lot of the films heavy emotional burden and Price is deserving of awards attention if the opportunity presents itself. If Jackie Weaver can be nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Animal Kingdom’, Price is just as worthy for her performance in ‘Wish You Were Here’. Price also co-wrote the screenplay making her talent more admirable.
Grafting the misadventure together is co-writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith who uses the camera to totally absorb the audience into the holiday and the drama that follows – almost like a fifth wheel on the trip. The timeline jumps back and forth to slowly reveal what happened in Cambodia and the consequences those actions have on the characters that make it back to Australia. As the mystery unfolds the tension builds and Darcy-Smith keeps you guessing until the final moments of the film and possibly when you leave the cinema.
Darcy-Smith also highlights how easily the characters lose themselves to temptation. Although it may be unintentional, there is defiantly a big observation on the way Australians put themselves in tricky situations when overseas. The same could be said of tourists from any country but the point seems more poignant with the Australian flavour to the film.
The common sense ending might leave some people a little cold and wondering why the characters even bothered putting themselves through all the stress but it’s an apt conclusion.
Putting a beautiful touch on the film is the cinematography work of Jules O’Loughlin who captures Cambodia like an enticing postcard and there is a nice visual contrast between the holiday destination and the urban life the characters inhabit.
‘Wish You Were Here’ is a great film that captures an experience that may be familiar to most Australian audiences, but hopefully those experiences play to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs Smart Traveller Guide to Asia a bit better than in the film.
‘Wish You Were Here’ is now released in Australia.
The Popcorn Junkie