January 20, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>Two Australian couples vacation together on the beaches of Cambodia, but only 3 people return. That’s the set-up for Kieran Darcy-Smith’s skilled debut WISH YOU WERE HERE, which premiered as part of Sundance’s World Cinema competition.

The focal point of the story is the more settled, middle-class couple on the trip: Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (Felicity Price, who also co-wrote the script with husband Darcy-Smith). Dave has a successful boat-building business, and the couple has 2 kids, with another on the way. Alice’s younger and flakier sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) asks them to come along on the trip she’s taking with her boyfriend Jeremy (Antony Starr), whom she’s only known for 6 weeks.

Jeremy is lost in Cambodia, his whereabouts a mystery. The film intercuts between what happened on the trip and the effects of the emotionally fraught situation, once Dave, Alice and Steph return to Australia. We find out fairly early on (nevertheless, Spoiler Alert) that something happened between Dave and his sister-in-law on the trip, but that’s not the only secret being kept.

Wish You Were Here is handsomely shot (by Jules O’Loughlin) and well constructed. The unravelling of the mystery and the relationships is absorbing. There are flaws: sometimes the script is too elliptical for its own good, and a key scene, while powerful, skirts the edges of Far Eastern cliche. The acting, however, is superb, particularly by Edgerton and Price, agonized by what’s going on in their lives. It’s also nice to see Palmer, who’s been eye candy in her Hollywood movies like Take Me Home Tonight and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, have the chance to give a real performance.

Wish You Were Here is unlikely to gather a wide American audience, but it’s a solid piece of work that earns its place at the festival.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."