Destination Wedding, 2018.
Written and Directed by Victor Levin.
Starring Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves.
The story of two miserable and unpleasant wedding guests, Lindsay and Frank, who develop a mutual affection despite themselves.
Destination Wedding isn’t just a one-note, one-joke dramedy, as it’s also a repetitive slog where the script/direction from Victor Levin structures literally every single scene within the same format; stars Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves pretentiously babbling back and forth to one another, side-by-side, ad-nausea. To put this in perspective, not a single actor in the film besides those two has a speaking line. And considering that these two lonely, bitter, emotionally damaged saps are so negative, that means there is no juxtaposition, distraction, or any way to get away from these insufferably human beings other than bolting for the exit doors.
Filmed on location in San Luis Obispo, California, looking at the admittedly striking backgrounds captured with competent shot composition is the only likable element of Destination Wedding. Even the short running time of 81 minutes (86 discounting the extra five for the ending credits) is not enough to keep from these personalities becoming irritating. It’s not actually credited anywhere online, but the opening title card gives Destination Wedding the alternate name of A Narcissist Can’t Die Because Then the World Ends; how appropriately fitting considering the duo we spend time with.
Admittedly, the schtick starts off charming enough with some romantic comedy tropes; the pair get into an argument waiting to board the flight, are repulsed when they realize that they will be attending the same wedding, and adding insult to injury are given adjoining bedrooms at the hotel. No, there’s no elaborate plot twist where other guests are attempting to set them up, although they most certainly do make a good match for one another with the only barrier being Frank’s cynicism to love whereas Lindsay is more of a hopeful optimist willing to try again years after having her heart broken by the very man for whom she is attending the wedding. Of course, none of that matters because there are no other characters in the film, but rather glimpses of guests (including the groom and bride) dining and partying. This creative decision wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if the entire movie wasn’t just two people sitting around casually debating with one another. The most exciting piece of movement within the first half hour is watching Frank begin to carry Lindsay up a hill. Lifeless isn’t just an expressionistic term here, it’s to be taken literally. My first thought once the credits rolled was “did anyone manage to cut together a trailer of this thing and make it appealing in any way whatsoever”.
Amid all the arguing there are brief moments where Frank spits out a hilarious zinger or an interesting topic of discussion arises, but those instances are few and far between, which is obviously not good in a movie that lives and dies by conversation. It also doesn’t help that Victor Levin himself seems to agree with the beliefs the narcissistic duo seem to share, breaking the movie up into chapters with each title embracing the same nihilism. Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves certainly give it their all with the material (the former is just as unlikable but, at the very least is empathetic while the latter has some terrific comedic delivery on his sardonic lines), but attention drifts and drifts as their dialogues go nowhere, unless they are directly verbally sparring with each other. It doesn’t help that they are speed talking in a movie that’s all dialogue, meaning that there is virtually no time to process any of the conversations. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want them to become a unit at the end, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t wish they would shut up for 90% of the running time.
Destination Wedding is a romantic comedy for extreme cynics and middle-aged people suffering through an existential crisis. Still, while those people may ascribe to some of the things the characters think here, this is a total waste of time. There’s a halfway decent script in here somewhere, but it’s directed in unprecedented lazy fashion, and by that, I mean doing absolutely nothing besides pointing the camera at the actors and filming.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com