Updated: Jul 19, 2019
By Derek May:
YIN: Destination Wedding
Destination Wedding may not be for everyone. What makes it unique may be exactly what turns some people away. But that’s ok, because however you ultimately view it, the film dares step outside the box and try something different, and at least for me mostly succeeds in the attempt.
The film stars Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. And only Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. With but a few brief exceptions, no other actor in the film speaks any dialogue onscreen. This unique approach presents the film as a big-budget play set amongst far more locations than you’d ever fit on stage. Reeves and Ryder, having previously done 3 films together over the last 25 years, have palpable ease with each other that echoes the joyous fun they must have been having on set. The pair trade endless barbs like an old married couple, yet still have that twinkle in their eye for each other.
But the relationship between the characters is far harder won. The film sees Lindsay (Ryder) and Frank (Reeves) thrust together while attending the wedding of Frank’s brother, who also happens to be Lindsay’s ex-boyfriend. The pair are mutually ostracized by the family due to their miserable and unpleasant natures, which of course sets the stage for an eventual communal bond and attraction.
In that regard, the film follows some of the usual rom-com tropes: the meet cute, the initial hatred of each other, the eventual breakdown of those walls, and the culmination and expression of their feelings. Sure, nothing new there. But as with most things, it’s all about the journey, and tracking these two misanthropes as they slowly start to realize they may be the only two people in the world capable of tolerating each other is wherein lies the fun.
That is of course, if you LIKE terrible people. This is the rom-com for the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia crowd. Viewers who prefer their characters less abrasive will likely be immediately put out (as my girlfriend was), and have little interest in seeing assholes find happiness. And that’s fair. If, however, you’re able to stick around, it’s a tantalizing perspective that pessimists like myself can too often relate to.
Winona Ryder has seen a sort of resurgence of late, due on no small part to her almost adorably manic turn as the lamentable mother on Netflix’s Stranger Things series. While she may be faulted for a bit of scenery chewing there, she offers a somewhat more standard performance here. The dialogue is delivered in breathless chunks, often more akin to soliloquy than conversation, but Ryder lets the philosophy-laden bon mots roll off her tongue with a fast-paced ease. Her character’s faults stem more from her unabashed desire for connection and need to fix and correct those around her, making her familiar and, while certainly annoying at times, certainly the lesser of the two evils.
Frank is not only a malcontented narcissist, he wears his misery like a badge of honor. He lectures more often than he converses, and Reeves plays that facet with a sneering deadpan. Keanu has never been a great thespian—he works well for what he does—and he may be a bit out of his league here, overlooking some of the nuance of the character. But he manages to balance the aggressive disparagement with enough light-hearted twinkle to be endearing and never mire Frank too deeply in his own bullshit that we can’t see a way out for him.
Ultimately Frank’s cynicism is a form of self-protection, but that armor is thick, and the film at its crux is driven by Lindsay’s continuous attempts to break through it. The amazing part is, he’s really not completely wrong in his sociological observations (depending on your point of view), and thus his well-defined arguments have enough truth and revelation as to wonder if he’s right that he’s better off alone—hell, maybe we all are!