What You Wish

What You Wish
What You Wish
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In his new noir thriller, Nicholas Tomnay (The Perfect Host) spins a fine yarn on the adage, “Be careful what you wish for”. His latest feature, What You Wish For stars Nick Stahl as Ryan, a gifted cook with an ever-mounting gambling problem. It is a captivating morality tale; however, it could end up costing too much.

Ryan’s redemption may be a snare in disguise. Ryan is meant to prepare the best meal he’s ever cooked for his employers’ guests at this dinner party. If anything goes wrong, he might die. The part where Ryan worked for these people and why he has to make dinner was one of the best parts of this movie. If you happened to see Tomnay’s last film The Perfect Host (2010), you will see similarities here. In that movie David Hyde Pierce ate up every scene as a prisoner who comes in seeking sanctuary only to get entangled in some evil games at a little party.

What You Wish For tells a story that is more down-to-earth than that one but also contains dark humor with Stahl giving an excellent portrayal of someone who suffers from greed and has weird sexual preferences.

Nicholas Tomnay’s plot seems simple enough and the absurdity — exotic side dish if you will — are what make the whole story here interesting. Ryan flees from his broken life into an unnamed tropical Latin American country. Jack (Brian Groh), his buddy takes him in such state of ruinism although he had always liked him as just Jack now has other things on his mind and soon they are going to change all that giving Ryan an unusual opening . Just jettison morality; assume my friend’s identity instead”, says Ryan without thinking twice about it till later when things turn out badly for him due to this decision

Now “Jack,” Ryans receives Imogene’s suggestively assigned steely taskmaster position by Tamsin Topolski, which is actually the coordinator for a very important dinner with some extremely rich and influential people. That she has an entourage of sycophants and security, however, should let you know that this will not be an ordinary meal. And soon Ryan learns why.

The film picks up speed from here on but Tomnay is careful not to give it too much over-the-topness so that it becomes just pure camp. The suspense bubbles under the surface. Of course, there was some food porn in that creative menu as any fan of cooking shows would attest to by watching this precision in handling scenes by Tomnay. The actual dinner party and its guests don’t feature prominently on screen. Not really.

This affair isn’t like The Menu, but like that film, it occasionally feels as if there are several missing ingredients. It could have benefited from deeper character exploration or something from which we can better understand Ryan and how we wound up in this mess, or even something more about his past.

However, as a genre film by Tomnay, its Trojan horse was to express sociopolitical ideas. In this case, how much America has become completely uninterested in the world as a community. It’s seen in the visitors at dinner — their vapid conversation — and in Imogene’s stony stare and placid tone of voice. They act like they do not know that the whole world is going down in flames, but… by God will they have an extravagant meal?

Penelope Mitchell also puts on a nice performance here as Alice. She appears early on, meeting Ryan before he has assumed her friend Jack’s identity – can you imagine her surprise when she walks into the middle of a dinner party? The other alternative is represented through the presence of a local detective (Randy Vasquez) who is sent to investigate Jack’s disappearance. While there’s dark humor throughout, the tension dial gets turned up to “high” toward the latter part of this different kind of thriller.

Tomnay also found our perfect bait for us to go on wanting more about What You Wish For- Nick Stahl. This child actor from Man Without a Face, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Fear the Walking Dead and most recently Knights of the Zodiac who had been through quite some ups and downs in his own life which bore many twists and turns. He returned few years ago, however he appeared even more fleshed out with someone comfortable with himself.

Stahl never skips any beat here either, making it a solid outing with his changes (and lack thereof). His eyes have this look though; it’s one that says he must have lived through so many unpredictable storms throughout his personal life. And so for that reason he decides to go along with this trippy culinary journey initially.

A good point about this film is its culinary theme and attractive location is great eye candy; it was wonderfully shot too only using few locations. Therefore, apart from wanting to know more about some of the characters, What You Wish For is ultimately a tasty noir thriller.

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