Beware of those vacationers who tend to play out their getaways so zealously that it transforms into something more forceful and threatening. As displayed before film audiences for the opening days of Sundance, two films showcased differing situations on how not to turn an innocent getaway into a perilous journey.
Heavy consciousness looms throughout the Australian domestic drama Wish You Were Here. Competing in the World Dramatic Competition, Director and Screenwriter Kieran Darcy-Smith, along with his wife, Felicity Price, as co-writer and star, they present an intriguing setup that during a family holiday in Cambodia, one of them goes missing and is told through intermittent flashbacks. While we see the family cope with this unaccounted loss several months later, the flashback scenes go back to Cambodia leading up to the disappearance of the boyfriend of one of the sisters.
No clues in the script provide the audience a hint of the boyfriend’s wherabouts nor any context of why he became missing in the first place. Teasing and playing it out, we get little of the mystery, and instead, have to endure the misery and unhappiness that this group so blatantly experience. Throw in a little bombshell of infidelity, and some aftereffects of marital discord, and the film really is thrown off its tracks and prolongs the tension behind the disappearance. Focusing too long on this domestic drama of a deteriorating marriage, plus the obligatory argument scenes, make you wish you saw another film and not this potboiling tedium of a story. But a tense climax towards the end finally justifies the large chunk of time consumption, but everything in between was expository hokum.
Simon Killer, a second film about a vacation brimming with dark undertones plays better based on the intense and pathological performance by Brady Corbet.
As seen through the perspective of an aimless drifter on vacation in Paris, Simon wallows in his self-pity as he goes through the pain and hardship of a broken relationship with his girlfriend. Holding a grudge against her, as she was the one who dumped him, he goes out in a tangent of recklessly promiscuous affairs with a pair of easily-vulnerable young women.
In the course of the film, we witness Simon in his brooding character study, the mental instability on his psyche as he accepts, or perhaps doesn’t accept, a well-written termination by email from his longtime girlfriend back in the states. She officially declares it over based on some frightening personality traits of his.
An alarming film that takes trust to a new level of distrust, Simon Killer should afford Brady Corbet his breakthrough in this film about a brooding and psychosexual loner. His previous supporting film roles, such as Funny Games and Martha Marcy May Marlene, blended in too persuasively within. Like Simon, Corbet will be a dark presence to watch out for.