Friday, June 29, 2012

REVIEW: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Despite a cumbersome title, this dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley is a pretty subtle, quiet and sometimes beautiful little movie. I didn’t even know about this thing until I saw the trailer for it before Prometheus, just two weeks before it came out. But I actually ended up liking this one better than the aforementioned sci-fi blockbuster…go figure.

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley

This movie is an end of the world flick that doesn’t focus too much on the scientific reasons for the world’s end or even the bigger picture – it just focuses on the life of one guy (Carell) and those around him. And surprisingly, it works really well. I always like movies that do this, because it just gives a much more humanistic, natural spin on the usual kinds of stories these topics generate. The human element is the most interesting part of any movie, especially something as monumental and alien as the end of the world. I want to see the individual, common man’s dilemma in the face of Armageddon. And this movie delivers.

Seeking a Friend works because of its blend of comedy and drama. The first twenty minutes or so has some pretty standard Steve Carell styled comedy, where he’s all awkward and whatnot, but that doesn’t last long and isn’t played up to any kind of exaggerated levels. And even during those parts, there is a subtly somber sadness that enhances the comedy, playing off the fact that it’s the end of the world. The movie never quite shoves that fact in your face, but it is always there beneath the surface, the catalyst for the more personal relationship forged in the movie’s runtime. Carell actually does a good job here and conveys the sober, serious tone very well while also allowing the funny parts to shine through. The balance is well done.

Knightley gives a good performance too, as the very British and quirky female neighbor who Carell befriends in the midst of the chaotic happenings all around him. They grow close and share some very tender and also some very funny moments on screen, as is typical of these kinds of movies, but it’s all handled with delicacy and delivered with sincerity, so I like it. The seedy, desolate country atmosphere of a lot of the latter half of the film really serves to drive home how alone people really are with the impending end of the world – everyone, at the end of his or her days, is alone, and with the collective end approaching, who is left?

As such, it becomes a very poignant picture, and the effect of the movie will linger on you long after you walk out of the theater. And I think that makes it a good movie, so go see it if it has piqued your interest at all.

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