Wish You Were Here (2012) – Australia

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 12th January 2013
Reviewed as part of Film Critic Circle of Australia Awards Nomination 2012

Australian Box Office Takings: AU$1,458,739

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Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith
Writers: Kieran Darcy-Smith (screenplay), Felicity Price (screenplay)
Stars: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Antony Starr

“Wish You Were Here” is a perfect example of how a thriller should be directed. Actor turn director, Kieran Darcy-Smith succeeds in his ability to extract every inch of suspense by turning a straight forward story into a highly tense and mysterious thriller. Joel Edgerton shines in his role of a cheating husband, dealing with a dysfunctional family and hiding behind barriers of a traumatic experience in Cambodia. Equally, Felicity Price (also screenwriter) overacts to maximum expressive effect as the audience are consistently captivated by each unfolding event. “Wish You Were Here” is a highly effective thriller that made perfect use of the beautiful Sydney landscape. The film is wonderfully lit throughout as well as adding plenty of suspense through the unfolding events at a mysterious and exotic Cambodian location.

It is always a welcome to witness Joel Edgerton (“the Warrior”) giving something back to the Australian industry and in this role, he is able to extract his years of experience into a highly flawed character that essentially drives the essence of the film. Edgerton’s notable presence is due to his ability be extremely likeable, not unlike an everyday man going about his troubles. The interplay between him and his wife (played by Felicity Price) are almost exhilarating to watch. In the scene where the two argues at the kitchen, which resulted in plenty of shattered glasses is a realistic moment of intense cinema. While Edgerton’s hides most of his emotions till the later stages, Felicity Price is suitably expressive and adequately overacts in the role of a wife dealing with a dysfunctional family, suspicious of her husband cheating with her sister (played by Teresa Palmer) as well as a baby on the way. She drinks through her sorrows and the last 15 minutes is where she truly shines. Finishing off a quadrant of good acting is Teresa Palmer who plays the sister with just the right level of intensity. Despite having a paper thin role, she able to hold her own and make the most of her limited screen time. Likewise, the centre of the story comes in the form of an extended cameo from Antony Starr who nearly manages to upstage Edgerton in the final few sequences.

All in all, “Wish You Were Here” is exactly the type of film, the Australian industry requires and need. Director Kieran Darcy-Smith smartly hooks the audience attention, through the use of flashback and by slowly uncovering the events bit by bit, maintaining just the right level of suspense and clues for the audience to edge through to the stunning finale. While the film seems to take a few short cuts near the end, especially in dealing with Edgerton and Price’s relationship. Perhaps, the film should have ended on a better note without the padding of the moving to new home and patching up every lose ends. Still, there is plenty to like about “Wish You Were Here” and if more Australian thrillers decide to take this direction, then there will be plenty more to cheer about. A good thriller for what it is worth, (Neo 2013)

I rated it 7.5/10

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