There’s a scene in John Singleton’s Poetic Justice where the lead characters get a whiff of some home cooking on the road and pull over to grab a plate at a family reunion going down in the park. Comedy ensues as they introduce themselves to family members that clearly no one recognizes or knows. They get away with it until they don’t.
This is eerily close to what happens with The Wedding Guest with a twist. Jay (Dev Patel) appears to be in India to support the bride and groom on their impending nuptials. Even though he breaks bread with family members, his main goal is not to grab a plate, but to kidnap the bride and deliver her to her real true love DeePesh (Jim Sarbh). Things seem to go well until an accidental shooting throws a wrench in everything resulting in Jay and Samira being on the run with no real solid plans.
Dev Patel is absolutely captivating as the mysterious man for hire with a heart. He’s definitely come a long way since the Marigold Hotel franchise and Slumdog Millionaire. In The Wedding Guest, just as he began to do in Lion, Patel stretches his range to escape the image of the bright-eyed optimist roles he is famously known for. He does so beautifully and effectively.
Radhika Apte (Samira) is the perfect complement to Patel. She’s cunning, savvy and knows exactly how to get what she wants on her terms.
Although I appreciate Dev Patel taking control over a career that Hollywood has seem to forgotten, The Wedding Guest feels like an Indian version of Bonnie and Clyde that paces slow without a strong payoff. It does however play around with the notion of a dangerous attraction of being with someone you know little to nothing about, which was a little more interesting to watch.
Kudos to Patel for not waiting for Hollywood to cast him in the business as usual roles of terrorist, driver or computer geek and producing projects in which he and other brown people can thrive on-screen.
Produced by IFC Films and directed by Michael Winterbottom, The Wedding Guest hits theatres TODAY – March 1.