Washington - Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder reunite on-screen for the third time in Destination Wedding, the refreshingly unconventional romantic comedy that accurately captures the beginning of a relationship: awkward and occasionally off-putting.
The cuddling is cumbersome, the sex sounds are displeasing, and, frankly, the only advantage of showering with another person is to simply to sing loudly together.
In the recent release, Reeves (who plays Frank, a pessimistic intellectual) and Ryder (who plays Lindsay, a heartbroken optimist) meet at a wedding they probably shouldn't have attended. In the picturesque wine region of Paso Robles, California, they butt heads and bond over existential conversations about the horrors of traveling, the narcissism of weddings and the unlikelihood of love altogether. Yet after a ton of deadpan humor and lyrical dialogue, we hope they'll be the exceptions to their own rules.
Destination Wedding writer-director Victor Levin chats about what it's like to craft an unsentimental rom-com. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Why the aversion to destination weddings?
A: I'm happy to go and honoured to be invited, but there's a certain self-importance to it, is there not? It'd be one thing if you had to take a long, expensive plane ride to the bride or groom's hometown. I get that; people live somewhere. But my wife went to Scotland for a wedding in a castle. Nobody (in the couple was) Scottish, there's no earthly reason to go to Scotland for that - to Scotland they went!
To play the trumpet that loudly is, to me, just asking for trouble. You're not the first two people to get married! The future is promised to no one! Take it easy and accept your good fortune with humility! Unless you know you're going to have the all-time greatest marriage that's gonna last forever and go down in history to serve as an example to every other married couple for the rest of time, do it with a little modesty. That's just my opinion.
Q: The disappointment and cynicism is more than plentiful here, especially with Reeves's character.
A: But, you know, I love grumpy people, especially when there are good reasons for their grumpiness. He's not just some curmudgeon in the corner who is grumpy for grumpy's sake; he has a pretty carefully constructed philosophy. Likable characters don't necessarily have to say likable things.
If you feel you're getting the honest version of a person, a little grumpy is okay. I'd much rather have that than someone who might not be what they seem. These two may not be pleasant, or warm and welcoming, but at least you know who they are.
Q: Wow, that sex scene! It's not a spoiler that there is one, right?
A: Not at all! I want people to know there is one, lest they think it's just two people sitting at a table talking for an hour and a half - which it mostly is, but there's also a sex scene and a mountain lion! We had (the sex scene) after the first take. They were so funny!
I had never seen a scene in which people argue for 8 1/2 minutes while they're having sex. Framing it was a struggle, because it's not about watching them undress but because the conversation in that context is funnier. We settled on a shot where their heads and shoulders are left of frame, and the rest of it is the field.
Q: This movie captures what it's like to be single in the current climate when cynicism is more common and lifelong singlehood is actually quite attractive.
A: The reason the television (in Reeves' room) always has some version of the four talking heads on cable news, screaming at each other and not really hearing each other, is because that's what the world has become. We behave badly publicly and privately, when we're on TV or looking for a parking space. Rudeness is okay; it becomes acceptable to be mean to strangers and air all your grievances and be judgmental and shut down.
It's hard enough to love each other, to fall in love and find a mate under the best of circumstances. But now, in this toxic, cynical environment, it's even harder.