We all need money. Visible Ink is no exception. But we don’t expect you fine people to just give it to us! No no! We think you should get something in return for your currency. A cinematic adventure, perhaps! So we arranged a movie night. We’re just that kind of people.
The Visible Ink team and forty of our closest friends went along to Cinema Nova to see Wish You Were Here, a recently released Australian film. We also had a little table piled with books and homemade ‘Danger Jam’ to sell to our supporters (and whichever strangers we could convert to supporters, in as not-a-cult way as possible). We here at Visible Ink never turn down a chance to turn an innocuous time into a hardline sales pitch. We’re hustlers yo.
After selling quite back issues of Visible Ink to the eager masses (get yours here so you don’t feel left out), we pilled into the cinema, anticipation on our breath (and spilling into our wine glasses).
Wish You Were Here follows husband and wife Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (Felicity Price) after a trip to Cambodia with Alice’s sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and her beau Jeremy (Antony Starr) goes awry. Jeremy disappears during a alcohol and ecstasy fuelled night and his companions, having returned home to Australia, struggle to deal with the fallout and try to understand what happened.
The set up makes for an interesting and engaging story, but its impact is hampered by a non-linear telling that dolls out the story in drips and draps. While this does make for mystery, it limits the viewer’s ability to understand the character’s actions. For example, we don’t know why Dave is behaving the way he is until very late into the film, so how can we possibly empathise with him? The scene that reveals all is certainly visceral and engaging, but it comes too late to change the way I felt throughout the entire film: curious, but slightly disengaged. Empathy is more powerful than interest, and one cannot empathise without context.
Issues with non-linearity aside, Wish You Were Here has several positives. For one, it’s gorgeous. It’s extremely well shot and remains a pleasure to look at throughout (which helps ease the pain of a pace that drops down a touch too low at times). More importantly, the actors bring their A game. Price and Edgerton in particular own the screen and deliver great performances. Everyone works well with the material and stops Wish You Were Here from falling into the mire of non-linearity.
I feel like I’m harping on about the non-linear thing, and I suppose I am. Don’t let that stop you from seeing Wish You Were Here! When it all comes together, Wish You Were Here is powerful and delivers on everything it kept from you. Its climaxes are great! They were just bunched together, when spreading them all out and putting them in their proper places would have added a lot to the early stages of the story and provided some much needed context for the characters’ behaviour. Balancing knowledge and mystery is always difficult: there’s an art to knowing when to withhold and when to share. I just think that director/writer Kevin Darcy-Smith and writer Felicity Price relied on mystery a bit too much this time.
That said, Wish You Were Here is worth seeing. There’s a joy to watching great actors do great work, and a lot of the movie just plain works.
But chances are you’ll enjoy it significantly less because you won’t be paying Visible Ink to see it. Giving us money just adds to an experience. It’s really quite amazing. You’ll just have to come along to our next fundraiser to feel it yourself. ‘Like’ the Visible Ink Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all of our wheelings and dealings.