Sometimes a title can sum up a movie, and The Misguided is the latest victim.
The Misguided is a hammy Australian drama covered in grease. From the unripened dialogue to the oily cinematography to the in-your-face overacting, this is a film that makes the viewer feel unclean. It’s also cheap in the sense that it’s currently exploiting one of its supporting stars as a selling point. Katherine Langford (who recently earned a Golden Globe nomination for her brilliant performance on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) plays the main character’s younger sister, Vesna, and she’s barely in the movie. You wouldn’t know that from the marketing, which shamelessly pushes Langford to the spotlight as a last resort to build anticipation around this disheveled movie.
When Langford isn’t on screen, the film focuses on free-spirit Sanja (Jasmine Nibali). After experiencing a messy relationship with the obscene Wendel (Steven J. Mihaljevich), she falls into a surprising coupling with his brother Levi (Caleb Galati). Even though this new romance is spontaneous, Levi and Sanja naturally “click”. Other than the occasional off-hand lewd comment, Wendel is unaffected by Sanja’s love interest. He does, however, fall back on old habits which get him into trouble.
Narratively, The Misguided is a typical family drama. But, scared by the film’s forgettable fate, writer/director Shannon Alexander makes bizarre decisions to amp up the style by quickly scrubbing through filler footage by fast-forwarding the film, reversing it, and pausing it. These stylistic choices don’t help whatsoever, other than providing the viewer with the odd unintentional laugh or snapping them out of their bored trance.
I won’t lie: I probably would’ve chalked The Misguided as par for the course as far as cinematic misfires are concerned; it could’ve faded away. But, the filmmaker’s awkward ways to save face makes this movie memorable for all the wrong reasons.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie