The Wedding Guest
by writer/director Michael Winterbottom
Working on one film often suggests the idea for another, related story. Filming In This World in Pakistan led, indirectly, to shooting A Mighty Heart and The Road to Guantánamo in the same country. It was ten years ago, for The Road to Guantánamo, that I travelled across the Punjab with two young men from Tipton, in England, to go to their friend's wedding in a small village a couple of hours from Faisalabad. It was 45 degrees centigrade (113 degrees Fahrenheit). The village had one dusty street with the usual shops and several big houses built with money sent back by villagers who had moved abroad. At the time it seemed like a great place to film a Western. The Wedding Guest isn’t exactly a Western, but the central character, let’s call him Asif, is a descendant of the Man with No Name—the man who rides into town, does what he has to do, and rides off into the sunset.
We do not know where he comes from. We don’t know who he really is. He is alone. He crisscrosses Pakistan to lay false trails. He is totally focused on his job. But even the best-laid plans can go wrong.
The Wedding Guest is a story based on Identity. The hero endlessly swaps his fake identities to hide who he really is. His career, his life, depends on anonymity. Samira is the polar opposite. She is trapped by her family’s idea of who she is and who she should be. She wants to escape.
Asif has multiple identities. He can pick one and go back, invisibly, to where he has come from. But Samira can’t. She doesn’t want to. She wants to escape. To be a new person. She wants her independence, her freedom. That is worth more to her than anything.