Aida Vucic | 27/04/2017
The prospect of attending a wedding is an exciting one. Free food, flowing alcohol and, of course, the celebration of love, sees even the most distant of relative and friends RSVP’ing, yes. But, unable to renege on the initial invitation, where do you place this lot of misfits; the addenda, the relatives that are basically as genetically alike to you as your neighbour? The answer, according to Jeffrey Blitz's surprisingly emotional comedy, is Table 19. The table situated the furthest from the bridal party, and close enough to smell the bathrooms.
This is the backdrop to Jeffrey Blitz's Table 19. Part rom-com and part drama, the film is headed by Anna Kendrick as Eloise, the ex-maid of honour and ex-girlfriend of the best man. Eloise finds herself shelved by the bride-to-be, forced to join the other guests of Table 19. This eclectic mix of attendees features an elderly lady and former nanny of the Bride, Jo (June Squibb), a disparaged couple, The Kepps (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), Walter, a British business man (Stephen Merchant) and Renzo (Tony Revolori), a sexually frustrated teenager.
Throughout the course of the film we’re introduced to this unlikely assortment, with each guests’ story as dismal as the next. They find solace in one another and seemingly unite to help Eloise manoeuvre through her unfurling relationship issues with her ex.
Although the group share a comfortable chemistry, often their stories feel underdeveloped, particularly for the travesties they’re faced with. With so many main players in such a remarkably short movie (at only 87 minutes), individual characters struggle to break out of typecast moulds. Certainly, all of the actors do tremendously well to bring unexpected depth to their characters. Remarkably, despite the thin characterization, we find ourselves with a resolution that is both welcomed and unexpected; one of true emotional heft.
While some of the comedic moments are chuckle worthy, they're mostly at the expense of Stephen Merchant and Tony Revolori's characters. As the socially awkward ex-conman and the mammas boy, respectively, the pair have the most success with the comedy aspect of this piece. The self-deprecating act does get tiresome though, and the film hits its lowest point when it relies on too much slapstick at the end of the second act. However, this is swiftly rectified, as Blitz brings emotional heft to bear. It is a revelation that is reminiscent of the entirety of this film - that the emotional, dramatic work is more effective than the comedy. The cast perfectly underplays the cliche moments, and this intriguing, almost B-list selection of actors gives a wonderfully warped take on the typical rom-com trappings.
There isn't anything new and innovative here in terms of craft. But the script is solid in its dramatic work, and, kept short and sweet, the film delivers an dramatic payoff that, despite all odds, actually works.
Table 19 is light hearted and playful, and it’s worth more than the low-budget it was made on.