Wish You Were Here, Straight From the Cambodian Tourist Board


Opening with a postcard-perfect vista of a Cambodian beach, followed with a sequence that could have been scripted by the Cambodian tourism bureau, Kieran Darcy-Smith’s Wish You Were Here seems intent on proving that a “holiday in Cambodia” can be more than a dark Dead Kennedys song—until the film goes just as dark. A picture about lovely façades and the rot within, Wish You Were Here concerns Dave and Alice (Joel Edgerton and Felicity Price), a married Australian couple vacationing with Alice’s sister, Steph (Teresa Palmer), and Steph’s beau, Jeremy (Antony Starr), a businessman whose success is evident and enigmatic. When Jeremy goes missing, a search ensues, continuing after the other three return to Australia. The setup smacks of Hitchcock and Nicolas Roeg, but Darcy-Smith’s focus is also trained on the domestic drama that ensues between Dave and Alice, drama that is ratcheted up when Alice learns her sister and Dave slept together during the trip. Unfortunately, that incident is hard to believe, as Dave is depicted as a loving family man and Steph a sweet sister, leaving the viewer with the sense of a major plot contrivance thrown in to expedite Dave and Alice’s disintegration. Stories built around a mystery can have a difficult time creating a satisfying answer, and this picture is no exception, with a relatively underwhelming revelation; one wonders what might have been if Darcy-Smith had committed further to the domestic drama, diminishing the film’s mystery from its center to its pretext.