Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Wish You Were Here" is a quirky Aussie thriller about a missing tourist -- and a warning

Wish You Were Here” (2012) is an Australian thriller, disturbing in some ways, about a vacationer who disappears.  The title seems a bit off base given the plot, but gets attention now because it sounds similar to the title of Zach Braff’s recent film (July 20).

The film also sets up the “four friends” scenario.  Two young men and young women are vacationing in Southeast Asia (Cambodia according to filming locations).  One of the men, Jeremy King (Anthony Starr) goes missing. He is an independent entrepreneur who runs “Amway-style” operations and who might be too close to drugs, sex trafficking, and the Vietnamese mafia.  His friend Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton), wife Alice (Felicity Price) and her sister Steph (Teresa Palmer), also Jeremy’s girl friend, return to Sydney to return to their lives, deal with possible grief, and help the police investigate. 

Tensions mount quickly, especially with Dave’s marriage.  The problem with the plot setup is that Dave already knows what happened.  The back story of events that led to Jeremy’s brutal murder unfolds at the director’s convenience, but other than conversation, there’s no direct connection to events “now”.  The film amounts as a warning to tourists in “third world” countries, as to how easily it is to get into trouble, particularly when the countries have corrupt police.  The advisory could easily apply to volunteers who work in countries like this.  Dave thought that what he was doing (going near the line in seeking more female companionship, and maybe a “high”) was OK because “everybody does it”, but he crossed the moral and probably legal line.  Remember, as Ashton Kutcher often says, “Real men don’t buy girls.” 

As far as "vacationing" in SE Asia, I remember that just a half century ago, men were drafted to die there. Remember the movie "The Killing Feilds"? (1984).  I was also reminded of Di Caprio's movie in 2000, "The Beach".
My screenplay for “Titanium” (treatment link) presents a technology reporter whose fiancée has disappeared while jogging.  Police become suspicious because the reporter had another girl friend.  But in my story, the protagonist does not know what really happened, and suspects supernatural occurrences – and needs that to be true to clear himself.  Yet, he becomes more interested in the mystery than just in saving himself, which might be perceived as a weakness in believability or rooting interest for the character.

The official site is here  (E-one films).The film is available on Netflix Instant play and can be rented on YouTube for $3.99.  

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