Table 19; R.S.V.P yes for this one
Getting married is a ceremony with life-changing ramifications, no matter how many times you happen to go through the occasion. It’s also a time, right or wrong, to measure your social standing against people you may or may not know. This practice of gauging ones social worth doesn’t necessarily take place at the ceremony. However, the reception can act as the perfect conduit to perform this meaningless and vain exercise, using the seating arrangement as the biggest piece of evidence of your relative importance to the happy couple. One recently-released film looks at this common practice performed by guests at weddings.
Table 19 is a film about the eclectic group of guests seated at the embarrassingly distant table. The film’s main character, Eloise (Anna Kendrick), against her better judgment, reluctantly decides to attend the wedding festivities. Eloise, who was recently dumped by her boyfriend of two years, who is also the best man, comes to support her best friend on her big day. In addition to being in a vulnerable emotional state, Eloise arrives at the reception to discover she has been placed with the rest of the social outcasts at table 19.
Over the course of the film, we learn more about the other guests sitting at the table. There’s the married couple that have hit a rough patch, a socially awkward man claiming to be a successful businessman, an equally odd teenager and a brash former nanny. They quickly become way too involved in each other’s lives, doling out less than perfect advice.
Easily the best part of Table 19 is its thoroughly enjoyable story. For the first fourth of the film, it proceeds as expected; like any other romantic comedy. However, the story goes in a much-unexpected direction, interjecting a twist that elevates the entire film.
As ironic as it may be, the writing is also the film’s biggest downfall. All of the characters, while authentic, likable and entertaining in their own quirky ways, do not receive adequate screen time. The film is approximately 90 minutes, but isn’t nearly long enough to properly tell the characters’ stories. Instead, the film ends without giving several important characters the conclusion they require. In the end there is a lingering feeling that the film is unfinished, that there was so much more of the story that we weren’t given.
While the film has noticeable problems, introducing too many characters and not doing enough with them, the likable cast and the film’s abundance of charm and heart is hard to overlook. 3 out 5.