Dev Patel has been a fantasy cast for James Bond for half a decade now. Talented, British, non-white. His roles in Slumdog Millionaire and Lion were rightly lauded and his lighter roles have garnered acclaim. Still, he’s never hopped into the driver’s seat of an action-thriller. The Wedding Guest is his first shot at one, and although it’s a misfire it certainly gives him another notch on the résumé if he’s ever interested in taking on a headline action role.
Jay (Patel) is a mysterious stranger hired to rescue Samira (Radhika Apte) from an arranged marriage by faking a kidnapping to reunite her with her secret lover. Things go wrong. The two end up on a slow and meandering journey through India and Pakistan to find safety, along the way discovering the truths each hold secret.
That’s it. There isn’t much going on with either Jay or Samira. The script by Michael Winterbottom (24-Hour Party People, the Trip movies) is a thriller short on thrills. Occasionally someone shows up to remind us that our lovers are on the lam, but they also find the time to go swimming in nice hotels and take innumerable cleansing showers. Nothing in the film indicates it is grasping to make a statement on how easy it is to disappear or something. There is just not much going on for either of our characters.
And thus there’s not much going on in The Wedding Guest, playing at art theaters across the country this week. Go for Dev Patel; stay because you bought a ticket.