I knew nothing of this movie going into it. Here’s the premise: A married couple, Dave and Alice go on a vacation with Alice’s sister Steph and her new boyfriend Jeremy to Southeast Asia. They have a blast over there, but when it’s time to come home, only 3 return. Jeremy seemingly went missing. Steph is devastated, and Alice is trying to help her through a very emotional time. At first, Dave seems numb about it all, but it isn’t long before he begins to act suspicious. Does he know what happened to Jeremy? That’s all I can really say about it. There are a few developments that are best discovered while watching the movie for the first time.
This flick grabbed me right away with an electrifying title sequence that shows the 2 couples on vacation, as they buy things from street vendors, swim in the ocean and dance at outdoor raves. It’s filmed in such a way that it makes the audience feel like they’re viewing home movies. None of this feels forced or staged. It feels like the actors were really on vacation. It’s all handheld and really added to the authenticity of it all. All of this ends with a shocked, shirtless Dave walking by himself through an empty field… then….BAM!….. WISH YOU WERE HERE appears on the screen. Great way to start the movie.
The rest of the film is just as involving and engaging. We see how Jeremy’s disappearance affects the 3 that made it back, and how each one copes with it. There’s some great moments between Alice and Jeremy’s parents, when she tries to comfort them. The movie also flashes back every so often to the vacation when Jeremy was still around. We learn how Steph and him met, and what kind of person he really was. The tension grows as the film goes on, and by the end of the film, we DO find out exactly what happened to Jeremy. It’s not that hard to figure out, but the way it’s handled is fascinating to watch.
Joel Edgerton is proving to be a fine actor. He was in THE GREAT GATSBY as Tom Buchanan. Now, he was a little too cartoonish in that one for me, but he was excellent in the very underrated and overlooked THE WARRIOR. He’s also really good here too as Dave. I would say he’s got some of the more difficult emotional scenes of the movie and he pulls it off admirably. It’s a great performance. Felicity Price (who co-wrote the screenplay) also handles herself well in a role that isn’t that easy to play, I think, as Alice. She just wants to find the answers, but Dave is holding things back. Teresa Palmer as Steph is a knockout. Yeah, I said it. But not only is she hot as fuck, she’s also a really good actress, and handles the dramatic scenes like an old pro. Antony Starr doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time as Jeremy, but he makes a lasting impression to make the audience care what happened to him.
This is Kieran Darcy-Smith’s directorial debut, and it’s an established piece of filmmaking. It definitely doesn’t have that “fake Hollywood” feel. It feels like real life. It’s shot with a raw style that injects the film with life. The screenplay isn’t all that original, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s made in a fresh way that I found incredibly engaging. It’s definitely not light viewing. It’s heavy shit! But if you like emotional rollercoasters, then you should give this one a try. I really enjoyed it. It’s an engrossing, dramatic mystery that’s filled with terrific performances and raw filmmaking. It’s not something I would want to watch every day, but it’s also something I won’t forget anytime soon. And that, alone, is an outstanding achievement. ★★★1/2 (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for language, some drug content, brief sexuality and violence.
– Running time: 1hr 32min.