Brief Reviews: Wish I Was Here

July 12th, 2014, 12am

It was 23.3°C with scattered clouds. The wind was calm.

If you’ve considered seeing Wish I Was Here, put it on the list for Netflix. It deserves your box office money on a principled standpoint (saying “I support independently funded film-making rather than the just the shit that Hollywood puts their money behind.”), but cinematically, it leaves plenty to be desired.

I hate to even say that, and I will probably go see it again in theaters in a few weeks when it’s released in theaters (that principle thing). However as a Kickstarter backer, I’ve followed the entire quest from inception to production, and I got to see the backers’ advance screening. While the movie has potential, it seems to be unfulfilled. Few scenes give me the kind of satisfaction that Garden State did, so if you’re watching this movie in the hopes that it will meet that admittedly high bar, I’m sorry to report that I didn’t find it to do so.

I think my biggest discomfort is with the editing, which seems to rush scenes rather than letting them simmer and develop. This is a hugely ambitious storyline, and the emotional space just isn’t there for the relationships to grow, or the dialogue to feel natural (which I thought was a real achievement in Garden State. None of the relationships felt authentic, almost as though the cast was a hodge-podge rather than a conscientious casting.

I will admit there are some scenes which do succeed in capturing what his first movie did so well—the opening kitchen scene being one of them—, and there are times when the writing is sharp, poignant, funny, endearing, or some combination. On the whole though, it seems to be… rushed.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Wish I Was Here isn’t terrible—it’s a beautiful concept, a decent manifestation, and a solid mark on the resume for Zach Braff. He’s certainly on point when it comes to finding roles which show his range and amplitude of acting potential. I just wish the 1 hour 46 minute movie had taken the extra 20-30 minutes to really dive in and develop the story more.

As someone who’s had a relatively intimate view of the entire production of this movie, I don’t feel like my money was wasted. I also just wish they’d ignored all 46,520 of us chomping at the bit, never mind the press and pressure of the Hollywood Machine, and done it perfectly.

Sanna said thanks.

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Valerie Stimac

Constraints create lots of great things, diamonds and creativity among them.

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