Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Review: Wish I Was Here

World of Blackout Film Review

Wish I Was Here Poster

Wish I Was Here
Cert: 15 / 107 mins / Dir. Zach Braff
WoB Rating: 6/7

So, speaking as a man who finds himself apparently middle-aged (somehow), and with no real idea what he's supposed to be doing, Wish I Was Here really connected with me. It's the story of a struggling actor Aidan Bloom trying to come to terms with his father's terminal illness, a slacker brother, a wife he can't seem to find enough time for and the daunting task of homeschooling his two children. Not necessarily a blindingly original idea, this could have well been a lot more saccharine in different hands, but the film has a clarity and honesty which comes from being written and directed by its central actor, Zach Braff. Rather than just focusing on the family issues, Braff casts the net wider to ponder childhood hopes, the purpose of life and of religion. It's nowhere near as heavyweight as I've made that sound, I promise you.

The force holding everything together here is Braff, and the chemistry between the whole cast is amazing - especially Joey King and Pierce Gagnon as his children, Grace and Tucker. Their exchanges throughout the film are witty and upfront without feeling forced or rehearsed, and as sentimental as the film gets at times, it does so with a curious lack of sugar-coating (especially when it comes to the various family disputes). Also handled playfully yet delicately is the religious element, with Aidan's orthodox Jewish father still having a huge influence over the family - despite Aidan having stepped away from that arena - and his daughter seemingly embracing the faith with gusto. Although the story weaves around Judaism, the themes can apply to any religion and while the film asks many questions, it's wise enough to admit it doesn't know the answers.

There are a few short fantasy-sequences intercut into the story (there's a quick shot of one in the trailer with the floating probe-droid type thing), and I'd have liked to have seen this expanded. By which I mean the theme it's carrying, not just more robots. But also more robots, I suppose, yes. But ultimately, it's Aidan's brother Noah (played ably by Josh Gad) who gets to wear the man-child trousers in here. This is an entertaining and touching film; a sort of mid-life-crisis version of The Way, Way Back. Which probably goes some way to explaining why I enjoyed it so much.

Inspirational without preaching; this, Mr Favreau, is how you write, direct and star in a film with a sincere message.

A personal and spiritual journey with a fucking foul mouth, Wish I Was Here effortlessly highlights the absurdity of both dying and living, irrespective of where your faith (or lack thereof) lies.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
It is.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
For me, yes.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
You won't lose too much by watching at home, but the film's worth travelling for if a cinema near you is showing it.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Will I watch it again?
I will.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
I can't be the only one who thought Noah's Comic-Con costume was astoundingly average though, can I? I mean I know that wasn't the point, but still…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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