It’s a strange kind of tradition – or a tragic, desperate attempt to connect during a time of heightened romance – that single wedding guests will hook up with each other during their friend’s/family’s wedding. There’s always one, right? But what if those guests hate each other?
Victor Levin’s anti-romance rom-com Destination Wedding pairs two of Hollywood’s most beloved figures, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, as two neurotic, misery-guts guests thrown together at a weekend-long wedding in California wine country.
With a reluctance to even attend the wedding in the first place, their disdain is exacerbated further as the pair meet as strangers at the airport when Ryder’s character Lindsay accuses Reeves’ Frank of pushing in line. This minimal interaction is blown out of proportion by Lindsay’s irritable persona, who is less than thrilled to find that they are seated next to each other on the 8-person plane they must eventually board.
Levin poises his film as a series of unfortunate incidents that repeatedly draw the pair together, like adjacent rooms and rehearsal dinner seating arrangements that force the disgruntled guests to interact. This is a film that relies solely on the chemistry of its two leads; this is Winona and Keanu’s fourth cinematic outing together and easily the most magnetic – in a ‘we both hate everything’ kind of way. Levin’s script is essentially just a witty back and forth reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy. Walking, talking and transportation with a closed off worldview disregards almost every other person around them focusing solely on Reeves’ deadpan delivery and Ryder’s overbearing fast-talking mouth. The pair are utterly charming together; their hatred of romance, ideals and just about every minor inconvenience surrounding them never feels like a raincloud hanging over the plot but more a story about how there’s someone out there for everyone.
It’s easy to get caught up in a guttural need for Lindsay and Frank to get together, but Levin is restrained enough in his major plot points to never reach for a sweeping romantic gesture or a sudden epiphanic moment where they decide to become positive, loving people. In fact, their penultimate show of affection is a painstakingly long and awkward sex scene in a field filled with chatter and the looming presence of a nearby mountain lion.
Ryder and Reeves give an enjoyable riff on the trope of wedding hook-ups that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A rom-com made for people who don’t like rom-coms, Destination Wedding shows that cynicism and loathing can end up being the perfect pairing.
Destination Wedding is out on Digital now and DVD on July 1st
by Chloe Leeson
Chloe Leeson is the founder of SQ. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her life source is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews and Ezra Miller’s jawline. She is a costume designer for hire who spends far too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here