What You Wish For REVIEW – A Tasty Delight

That dream job you covet might end up being a nightmare.

What You Wish For
What You Wish For

The essence of what Nicholas Tomnay’s film is about is apparent from the title itself: be careful what you wish for. That’s what awaits our protagonist Ryan (Nick Stahl), who is visiting his friend Jack (Brian Groh) in a remote part of Latin America. We also learn that Ryan is being chased to pay back 50 thousand dollars worth of gambling debts. Jack is an old friend from culinary school, who is now a private chef who prepares food for the elite – and gets paid handsomely for it – while Ryan is just a chef at a chain hotel. This is why Jack is currently staying at this villa, where he gets to stay and enjoy a mini vacation of sorts while he makes the preparations for the meal.

Jack’s life seems ideal, especially when Ryan draws comparison to his own, despite Jack’s proclamations that everything is not what it seems. To add insult to injury, when Jack and Ryan have a cook-off for fun, which involves a blind taste test, Ryan’s food gets chosen as the better plate. It’s hard to know how exactly Ryan feels about all this, since Stahl plays the character with a certain blank slate, who doesn’t react much to the things that happen around him. This choice he makes actually helps when Ryan constantly finds himself in situations way beyond his control, yet he’s able to improvise and doesn’t outwardly panic. After watching numerous seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, it makes sense that Ryan would be so calm under pressure like this, considering the intense conditions chefs work under all the time.

Through a series of events, Ryan finds himself having to take over Jack’s role in the kitchen, thrown into a situation that escalates over and over again. The fun of the film lies in every new obstacle that gets added to Ryan’s plate, which means I can’t go into detail about the intricacies of the plot. Let’s just say I think What You Wish For would make an excellent companion piece to The Menu. The Menu is all fire and brimstone, while What You Wish For is almost relaxed in the way it presents how things unfold – equally unsettling. Both films dive into what it means to serve the rich, and the person you become because you do.

The reality is horrifying and inescapable, and all you’re told to do is to compartmentalise and not think about it. That’s Imogene (Tamsin Topolski) and Maurice’s (Juan Carlos Messier) advice to Ryan when they come to help him prepare the house for the guests. They’re both calm and unflappable in the face of any challenge, which is a reflection of the number of years they’ve both committed to the agency, in contrast to Ryan’s quiet sweating as things start going off the rails. The money they make is enough to comfort them and the sheer amounts from these dinners makes it easy enough to shrug off the consequences of their actions. Also, they rationalise that if it’s not them, it’ll be someone else, so why not benefit?

Review screener provided.

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What You Wish For
Verdict
What You Wish For is tasty good fun - a film that will make you rethink your desires for a better life.
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