Director’s Statement, Destination Wedding:
I have always loved grumpy people — the less self-edited the better. They seem fearless; they make you laugh and they make you think. And if you ask enough questions, you find that sometimes there are excellent reasons for their grumpiness. Life, after all, does hand out its injuries.
None of which is to say that grumpiness makes for a good long-term plan. Without at least a little hope and optimism, life gets pointless in a hurry. And so grumpy people present a question, in real life and, sometimes, in stories: can they heal? Do they still care to try? The struggle of hope versus experience is high-risk and valiant. It can be funny and even joyful. I root for these people. Sometimes, I’m sure I’m one of them.
Take two really grumpy strangers, then — smart ones with very painful pasts, whose idealism has been beaten into a thin paste. Throw them together in such a situation that their grumpiness makes them instant pariahs, as for instance a destination wedding — a weekend-long, unrelenting proclamation of other people’s happiness. They cannot participate in this joy-fest anymore than they can participate in life itself, which is always going on over there somewhere, just out of reach. They hate each other and they hate themselves. They hate the bride, they hate the groom, and they have horrible histories with both. And with others in the wedding party. They have come only because they had to; they were invited only because they had to be. Nobody wants them there, least of all them, and as a result they are seated together at every event in what is, for them, 72-hour marathon of pain. Make them tresspassers in paradise, fish who have been taken out of water and plunged into some other awful, toxic liquid. Stretch their tolerance beyond its limits, watch them thrash about, let them air all their grievances.
And then, see them recognize a spark in each other, and feel one within themselves.What will they do with it, if anything? Embrace it or turn away? Are they just too far gone to try? Is it wiser, and safer, and calmer, and better, to stay hopeless?
Maybe we’re all battlers at our core. Maybe we know that capitulation equals a kind of death. Maybe the struggle is worth it. Maybe not. There are no easy answers. But, as always, it’s the question that matters.
I’m deeply indebted to Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, who mastered a mountain of material, threw their big hearts and big talents into it, and shot a feature film in nine and a half summer days. And I’m so grateful to Gail Lyon, Elizabeth Dell, Giorgio Scali, Callie Andreadis, William Ross, Matt Maddox and so many other wonderful artists working behind the cameras and behind the scenes. Independent films defy the odds by virtue of their very existence, and no one gets to the theater without wonderful creative partners like them.
Thank you for coming to see Destination Wedding. I hope you enjoy it.
–Victor Levin, Writer-Director, August 2018