Starring: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, DJ Dallenbach
Director: Victor Levin
Running Time: 87 mins
Destination Wedding is an American film about two broken souls who meet at a wedding in Mexico, and discuss their cynical worldviews as they begin to fall for one another.
Much like the evolution of the love-hate relationship between its two protagonists, I wasn’t keen on Destination Wedding at first, but it’s a film that really grew on me.
Surprisingly opening up with a heartfelt, unique and insightful ideology and worldview, as well as an unlikely partnership in Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, Destination Wedding may be a slow, almost minimalist watch, but it’s one of those films that’s really worth sticking with to the end.
Of course, its first act is fairly predictable. Reeves and Ryder are two cynical people who keep running into each other as they reluctantly attending a destination wedding. Their relationship is less than magnetic as they begin a rather generic love-hate dynamic, and the conversations they engage in are far from riveting.
Destination Wedding is an extremely dialogue-heavy movie. Much like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, the film is almost exclusively composed of lengthy conversations between the two main characters. Destination Wedding isn’t quite as moving as the Before films, but its minimalist, dialogue-strong screenplay does ultimately develop into its greatest strength.
Once the inevitable gets out of the way and Reeves and Ryder get together, the poignance of their cynical worldviews is that much stronger. From the combination of the strength of their respective ideologies on the futility of love, hope and happiness to the moment they realise that the world may not be as hopeless as they always believed, the film opens up a both heartfelt and deeply introspective look at cynicism and romance as one.
There are clear thematic similarities there to the Before films, which also deal with cynicism as a front for true romanticism, but Destination Wedding handles it in slightly lighter, yet equally engaging fashion.
This film’s often cartoonish use of comedy is arguably its biggest downfall, undermining the genuinely impressive depth of its themes and the riveting nature of the conversations between its lead duo.
But Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder really work well together – pulling off the development of an often generic love-hate relationship in surprisingly impressive fashion. Their chemistry falters at times, and the romantic sparks don’t quite fly spectacularly, but their earnestness in the portrayal of their characters’ ideological introspection is what really makes them captivating to watch.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Destination Wedding. It might get off to a bit of a poor start, and still falters along the way to the finish, but the way it unfolds into a genuinely riveting and heartfelt drama from what seems like a generic premise is an absolute delight. And that’s why I’m giving it 7.4.