The Winter of Bottom’s Discontent

Winterbottom back!

I celebrate artistic range whenever and wherever it sprouts up. But like with all things in life, anything good always comes with some downsides. And for directors like Michael Winterbottom, who cycle through types of movies as often as he makes a movie (not familiar with him? You wouldn’t be the only one; perhaps chameleonic directors are destined (doomed?) to have lower profiles than those with clearer, more consistent, and thus sellable calling cards), this mutability often results in failing to find a distinct directorial language for each cinematic mutation.

Such is the case with his latest: The Wedding Guest, which is weirdly devoid of style for a director of so many tonal faces. His craftsmanship here is workmanlike, but unremarkable. Like, sure, he’s saddled with an average script, but that doesn’t excuse how little he does with it.

What’s that?

You’re saying he wrote it, too?

Oh.

Well.

Then I guess what I’m saying is that he’s not The Wedding Guest‘s guest-of-honor; that title should be bestowed upon Dev Patel, who’s never been better — it’s almost like it’s a good thing when actors are granted roles that don’t reduce their abundant skills into easily-classifiable  stereotypes. The dude should be legitimately considered to replace Daniel Craig as the next Bond, range I never even considered he could traverse until now. It takes a certain level of movie stardom to anchor an otherwise over-plotted, under-charactered, scarcely-enjoyable romance-thriller that’s far from a thrilling romance, though deciphering Patel’s ever-shifting chemistry with costar Radhika Apte provides one of the movie’s few sparks.

Hopefully Dev will be back again soon…

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