Under the opening titles of this Aussie thriller, a quartet—a young woman (Felicity Price), her husband (Joel Edgerton), her sister (Teresa Palmer) and the sister’s new boyfriend (Anthony Starr)—enjoy a night of mild debauchery in the wilds of Southeast Asia. But no sooner has director Kieran Darcy-Smith’s credit disappeared than the screen cuts to black, followed by Edgerton stumbling, half naked and shell-shocked, through a field.
The rest of Wish You Were Here is spent trying to fill in the blanks, especially since, during the interim, the sister’s beau seems to have disappeared without a trace. Thanks to recreational drug use, memories are hazy, and some of what they do remember isn’t easy to admit. Yet the more the film flashes back to the night in question, the more you sense that this is less about solving a mystery than owning up to some bad deeds.
The structural fireworks of Darcy-Smith’s first feature may ultimately provide more light than heat, but they don’t distract unduly from its strong performances. Edgerton registers the weight of his rocky marriage and unspoken complicity without giving away too much before its time, and Palmer nails the petulant outrage of a younger sibling whose personal crises are always ranked second. With greater faith in its material, the movie could have dispensed with its time jumps and saved the reveals for when they matter most.
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