Table 19 – Movie Review
Table 19 – Movie Review
Rating: C (Average)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
The chance to bring together a talented group of actors and give them a script where they are allowed to work off each other seems like a can’t miss opportunity. While Table 19 starts off promisingly with funny little dialogue exchanges as we’re introduced to the main characters, it soon dissolves into contrived scenarios and conversations. The script thinks it’s saying something meaningful, but it’s not as smart as it thinks it is. Despite the film’s short length, it continually feels like the end is never in sight. The entire project feels like a waste of Anna Kendrick, Stephen Merchant and these other entertaining performers.
The first act has the proper tone for this project. Directed with a light comedic touch by Jeffrey Blitz, the script does a decent job of introducing the various protagonists. Merchant’s mysterious guest provides the strongest laughs as he attempts to hide his past from the other table patrons. Kendrick also gets a couple of funny little moments, particularly as she runs down the set up of the wedding reception. It’s a breezy and enjoyable escapade for those first thirty minutes. Eventually, Table 19 decides to switch gears and that’s when the wheels come off and its shift to dramatic territory is jarring.
Kendrick’s Eloise continually pines for her ex-boyfriend during the film’s runtime, but the film never gives a proper indication for why the audience should root for their reunion. The dialogue in their scenes together are stiff and unconvincing, lacking the necessary drama of the situation. Wyatt Russell’s unnatural performance does not help matters. The other participants are given forced conflicts and their conversations have an irritating faux-philosophical speak. The screenplay so desperately wants to sound smart, but it doesn’t gel with the silly comedy that pops in and out of the film. It’s almost surprising Table 19 did not play at Sundance, because it would have fit right in with the sorts of films that stereotypically premiere at the film festival.
The loops the story tries to jump through to justify character decisions are massive, with Eloise making one odd choice after another. It only makes the pacing of the film that much more askew. Every scene in the third act becomes more excruciating than the last as we await for the end credits to roll. Even the comic dialogue, that worked in the beginning of the film, doesn’t land at all. It feels like another director or screenwriter had taken over and wanted to turn this into a more character driven piece rather than the single location comedy at the start of the film.
Anna Kendrick is one of the most charming actresses working today, but even she struggles under the weight of a script that’s utterly fall of itself. One can see what Blitz and the Duplass Brothers (who are credited for the story in the final cut) were trying to do early on, but ideas got tangled and confused during the writing process. Table 19 is not as intelligent or thoughtful as it thinks it is and continually has its characters making embarrassing mistakes. It can’t decide whether it wants to be a thoughtful meditation, a simple dialogue driven comedy or a slapstick comedy with hijinks.