Friday, July 24, 2015
SEEKING A FRIEND AT THE END OF THE WORLD (2012)
Written & Directed By: Lorene Scafaria
Cinematography By: Tim Orr
Editor: Zene Baker
Cast: Steve Carrell, Kiera Knightley, Adam Brody, T.J. Miller, Gillian Jacobs, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, Roger Aaron Brown, Rob Huebel, Connie Britton, Amy Schumer, William Petersen, Derek Luke, Martin Sheen
An asteroid named "Matilda" is on a collision course towards Earth and in three weeks the world will come to an absolute end. What would you do if your life and the world were doomed? One man decides to spend his time searching for his long lost love from high school during the coming catastrophe.
Of course begins with a very mororse premise, but as the film continues it gives you a feeling of hope and happiness of the human spirit. The story of an "unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on an impromptu road trip" is familiar territory for Director Lorene Scafaria, as that was the premise of her previous screenplay, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist".
At first it feels like a group of sketches tied together of dark comedy more episodic then anything. Then the story takes shape.
The film has a very cheap look I guess to represent the non specific middle class way of life. Thankfully the film is filled with actual interesting characters and their reactions to things that are pretty grand. Thankfully due to the commitments and character actors who fill the film with the spirit it sometimes lacks. The film slowly becomes enjoyable due to it’s charm and ideas.
I will admit while i usually enjoy the two lead actors Steve Carell and Keira Knightly, but they both seem miscast and have no real chemistry and look weird together. While they both re believable in their roles together they feel mismatched which considering their characters might be intended a kind of abstract couple, but as the film continues. It seems to imply they are perfect for one another.
The film even includes the classic film invention the meet cute, by letting them meet on the fire escape as she tries to get into her old apartment.
Keira Knightly is obviously the manic pixie dream girl. That perfect leading lady who’s beautiful, Quirky and fulfills in teaching the leading man to put him back on his feet or teaches him to be the man he should be.
It is generally really that Steve Carell plays the straight man in crazy situations though he is usually best when playing quirky himself. Here he is so down which is what the film asks for, that it seems like he isn’t trying though actually is. He actually gives my favorite performance in the film. He is always up for or good for whatever role he plays. Even if i don’t like the film or entirely get his characters motivations. Though strangely in his roles he never seems to fit just right, but is capable. He is talented enough to pull them off. Maybe he is just better then the material he is usually given. You get a sense he is trying at least he is going out of his comfort zone. I can’t describe his quality, but can sense it. A jack of all trades so to speak The film has a interesting concept.
Though the films mood is deadpan and dry with the low energy it gives off. The performances are more manic energy. So that the opposites are constantly battling. Which sets the film apart to itself. That makes it original and admirable. It’s not afraid to show it weaknesses and is ok with it’s flaws and Very odd beats. There is only one like it it fits together perfectly for no real reason. It shouldn’t work, but it does. For such a melancholy film it manages to strangely be life affirming in a dark cynical way. Even down to it's ending which is somewhat happy yet not.
It is the ultimate dark film that is presented in more of a light and bright manner. Despite all the sadness and destruction going around.
It's a hard film to pin down, but it stays wonderous as you wonder what will happen next or where exactly it is going. Probably also seeking what the film might be trying to say. Though it leaves it to interpretation.
While it is served well by It's cast they get to be a distraction. As the film is moderately budgeted. It seems to be advertised and presented as something that is supposed to be bigger, when in reality it is perfectly sized. Maybe if presented an an independent film, it would be seen as too star friendly and more cutesy, but presented as a studio film it seems rather dark and small scale. It's a film that a dark cloud hangs over constantly. Though that is what makes it worthwhile. As it seems to challenge your expectations. While also going with the flow to a degree.
Especially as the comedians have a chance I have their individual scene and set the tone of it with vivid characterization. According to the date on News Today's final issue hanging in the news stand near the beginning of the movie, the film takes place around March 24, 2021.
The film feels like the inspiration of a cult film or at least striving to be one. Though might have been better served as a book, to get the right tone and magnitude. As the stars of the film are well cast, but they are distracting too. As they seem like too big of stars, especially at the time for such a small scale story that seems like it will be big and with their casting seems to make the audience believe the same thing.
For all of it's weaknesses I do appreciate that it comes at a situation from a different mindset and level. When it could have easily gone for a happy love conquers all ending. It is like a film from the seventies where an idea could have been an action or special effects extravaganza instead it deals with characters and situations with general ideas no matter how conventional some of it may seem or be. Sure it is overly sweet but it's nice to see a film that deals with the apocalypse with a more positive attitude to a point
Maybe it’s the naivety of the first time director veteran screenwriter Annie
For all of its weaknesses I do appreciate that it comes at a situation from a different mindset and level. When it could have easily gone for a happy love conquers all ending. It is like a film from the seventies where an idea could have been an action or special effects extravaganza instead it deals with characters and situations with general ideas no matter how conventional some of it may seem or be. Sure it is overly sweet but it's nice to see a film that deals with the apocalypse with a more positive attitude to a point
The film feels different more like something to come out of the 70’s as it is more about the main characters and impending doom storyline then it is with it’s more quirky cast. Though Kiera Knightly character veers close to the fantasy dream girl role at times she really is grounded in a truthful place that makes her feel realistic at times.