Table 19 (2017)

Table 19
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writer: Jeffrey Blitz
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, June Squibb, Tony Revolori, Margo Martindale, Wyatt Russell, Rya Meyers, Charles Green, Thomas Cocquerel
Seen on: 2.10.2020

Eloise (Anna Kendrick) has been debating with herself whether she should attend the wedding of her (former?) best friend after her boyfriend – the bride’s brother and best man – Teddy (Wyatt Russell) dumped her. Over a text. Relegating Eloise from Maid of Honor to outcast at the wedding. In the end, she can’t stay away and ends up at the dreaded Table 19 – where all the guests sit that nobody expected or wanted to actually show up. Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson), Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant), and Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori) share Eloise’s fate and bring their own issues. As the wedding goes on and Eloise’s natural penchant for drama comes out more and more, things turn from awkward to outright catastrophic for them all.

I didn’t have high expectations for Table 19, but Anna Kendirick was ultimately enough of a draw for me to give it a go. And in some ways, it did surpass my expectations, but mostly it’s the cinematic equivalent of a cheap snack: pleasurable enough as long as it lasts, but gone from memory as soon as its over.

The film poster showing a fork holding up a wedding invitation. The fork has five tines, the middle one is the only tine in front of the invitation.

Narratively, the film is interesting in the set-up in particular, refusing to give you a lot of information until the film is well progressed – information that many other films would have probably dropped in an exposition. It makes you feel a bit at a loss at first, though not so much that it is disorienting. Instead you fill in the gaps about everyone together with the central six.

The film then becomes a bit like a sports movie for a while – a ragtag bunch has to grow together as a team – before taking another turn into romance territory. And I have to say that I remained uncomfortable with too many of the characters to enjoy their teambuilding. Especially the constantly horny Renzo who was just borderline sexist all the time didn’t really work for me.

The guests at table 19 - Bina (Lisa Kudrow) and Jerry Kepp (Craig Robinson), Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant), Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori) and Eloise McGarry (Anna Kendrick).

But the romance part did work very well for me. I was kind of surprised what direction it took and yes, it becomes absolutely cheesy towards the end, maybe more cheesy than it should have been. But Kendrick and Russell are so honest in their portrayal that their raw emotionality smooths those things over.

Overall the film is a bit of a mess, and I probably won’t be watching it again. But the romance here does make the film for me.

Eloise (Anna Kendrick) smirking like she has an idea.

Summarizing: Sweet, but also a little uncomfortable.

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