Table 19: Film Review
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, Margo Martindale, Tony Revolori, June Squibb
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Stretching it as thinly as its premise will allow, Table 19 invites you to a bittersweet tale that has elements of Tales of The Unexpected.
Centring around Anna Kendrick's Eloise, who's invited to a wedding and finds herself at the aforementioned Table 19 with a group of randoms, this bittersweet sitcom-cum-drama has the trappings of something solid.
Dumped as maid of honour and now a guest at the table that's closer to the bathrooms than the bridal party, Eloise regrets attending.
But as the group begins to question each other, they find a common bond as the night goes on.
With an instantly recognisable and relatable premise (After all, who hasn't dreaded the seating arrangements of a wedding and the necessity to make endless small talk?), Blitz's film trades on the awkwardness and unease of randoms at a table with fine gusto at the start.
Throwing in some sitcom elements and some more farcical edges, the majority of the heavy lifting is left to Stephen Merchant's usual deadpan delivery, gangliness and odd-looks and Kendrick's sweetly downbeat affability to convey the tone.
But once the "action" moves away from the table and the group re-locate from the wedding itself, the narrative loses a little of its steam and the uneven edges of the tone come to the fore.
Whilst there are some bittersweet truth bombs dropped throughout (largely courtesy of Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson, who play a bickering married couple) and some recurring gags, the pay-off for portions of Table 19 don't feel earned.
Primarily for Kendrick's character Eloise, the revelations, at times, feel a little obvious and with conclusions that can be seen from a mile off. And while there's a universality to parts of what transpires that the Duplass brothers, along with Blitz, have tapped into, there's simply a feeling that a lot of it has been saved from some great one-liners throughout.
The film can't resist a happy ending and it's here that perhaps the realities of life and authenticities of the issues raised through the film feel slightly betrayed. Life isn't always so easily resolved, but Table 19, having thrown up all the idiosyncracies of relationships for examination, neatly folds them back together at the end and serves up something as sickly sweet as a third piece of wedding cake.
While it's just a pinch under 90 minutes long, and quite bearable, it's a shame that Table 19 betrays its initial focus and premise for something that feels predictable and unnecessarily overly saccharine and sentimental.