Destination Wedding – review (Netflix)

Nihilistic sales executive Frank (Keanu Reeves) encounters neurotic, depressive, romantic Lindsay (Winona Ryder) when both of them are invited to Frank’s brother, Keith’s (Ted Dubost) wedding in Paso Robles. Meeting one another at the airport, they are initially pleasant until Frank, to Lindsay’s observation, tries to cut in from of the line.

With all the arrangements having been made by Keith, the two find themselves sitting next to one another on the flight to the wedding. On the flight, they find out that each is going to the same place, Keith’s wedding weekend. Lindsay finds out that Frank is Keith’s brother and Frank finds out that Lindsay was the ex-girlfriend of his estranged brother.

They also find they are in adjoining rooms at the hotel as well as being seated together at all of the activities organised over the weekend. The two bond over their shared dislike of everything. On the wedding day, with Lindsay distressed by the ceremony, they decide to go for a walk in the vineyards. They end up having sex.

Back at the hotel, Lindsay tries to suggest that they try and have a relationship. Frank’s unrestrained nihilism will not allow him to see a future beyond the weekend. An angry Lindsay decides to return to her room but Frank stops her, not wanting them to fall out. Lindsay returns and they spend the night sleeping awkwardly in the same bed.

The next day, they share a flight home and a drunken Lindsay tries to persuade Frank that they are perhaps destined to be together. Frank remains resolute in his cynicism saying that their relationship ends when the plane lands. When they get out of the airport, they go their separate ways.

As Frank sits alone at home, going through items he stole from the hotel, he comes across a chocolate bar that makes him think of Lindsay. Lindsay is at home looking at her dying plant when there is a knock at the door. It is Frank. The end.

Destination Wedding, a Netflix rom-com starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, is a pleasant enough film that is not as good as it could be. That is not to say it is bad but fifteen minutes in I decided to check the online film bible that is IMDB to see if the film was, as I suspected, written and directed by the same person. It is.

Written and directed by Victor Levin, the nature of the film makes it obvious that it is most definitely not a collaborative project. Not that it is bad, it is just mildly smug in its delivery and knowingness. If it were not for the two leads, I suspect Destination Wedding would have been another hapless effort filling up the graveyard of Netflix’s slew of awful films.

Luckily for Levin, the two stalwarts commit to the somewhat smug script, Reeves inhabiting the nihilistic Frank perfectly and Ryder’s wide-eyed still girlish looks working for the world-weary yet romantically hopeful, Lindsay.

Though the IMDB page shows a cast consisting of twelve people it is only Reeves and Ryder who speak. Everyone else is relegated to scenery. We see the bride and groom and, through Frank and Lindsay, find out a bit about them but we never meet them. Similarly, Frank and Keith’s mother is in attendance at the wedding and Frank and Lindsay discuss her but we never hear her.

Except for the beautiful location, the film could have been a stage play. There is the one scene where they flee for their lives from a mountain cat, the fear pushing them closer together and ultimately to their carnal encounter but it was the only part of the film that perhaps could not have been replicated on stage.

As I alluded to, the film looks lovely and is beautifully shot. It is competently edited and the script is amusing, though not as amusing as Levin seems to think. There are influences from the old Hepburn/Tracy or Hepburn/Hudson or even Day/Hudson films of the fifties and sixties, though because they only speak to one another, their eccentricities are not as pronounced as they would be had they encountered people with less obvious neuroses.

Destination Wedding is not a bad viewing experience and will probably be enjoyable for a lot of people. It is probably because of the sheer volume of films I watch and have watched and that I have written screenplays that I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Not a must-see but passable.

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