Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Keira Knightly, Steve Carrell, T.J. Miller, Melanie Lynskey, Amy Schumer, Adam Brody, Gillian Jacobs, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 101 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
On DVD (USA): 10/23/2012
After starting her career off with a bang penning the adapted screenplay for 2008’s “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”, Lorene Scafaria is now back with pre post apocalyptic proportions with her directorial debut. Summoning a mixture of comedy, drama and a great cast, what more could you ask for. So if you liked all that her previous writing had to offer you are going to love this journey to “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”.
While driving home Dodge (Steve Carell) and his wife pull over to hear the news that an asteroid named “Matilda” will impact the world in three short weeks. Stunned by this Dodge can only watch as his wife suddenly springs from the car and runs off on him and their marriage. Now all alone with the end growing nearer every day Dodge continues living his life, he goes to work and tries to figure things out without sinking into depression. But after a riot forces him out of his apartment he is now on the road with his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightly) and his new dog Sorry, as they set off to find his lost love and a way for her to get home to her family. The journey sends them in many directions including past lovers and a freaky chain restaurant, but all the while finding out more of what they wish they had had in life.
Like I said in the beginning Lorene Scafaria has done a phenomenal job with her directorial debut. Within her writing she takes us through a journey filled with many different emotions just as the characters go through as well. The film could have tackled the impending end of the world in many ways just as other films have done over the years. But what Scafaria does is bring a balanced act of drama and comedy to the mix instead of teetering in one direction or the other even leading you to wonder where it will take you in the end , happy ending or not. As we make our way though the film it falls into a four act type of scenario. Act one, the finding out; Act two, the meeting; Act three, the journey; and Act four, the resolution. All these acts play out very well having us go though the party scene with miscellaneous drugs, drinking and talk of random sex. To the seemingly random meeting of two neighbors who at one time or another probably saw each other by never bothered to notice. Then on to the journey where they meet unusually desperate people and restaurant that turned into a type of cult/orgy. The conclusion though is something I will let you experience for yourself but I will just say its a satisfying one. And when the film is all said and done I have to say that it is a touching, truth filled and very witty story being told.
Scafaria’s directing style like her writing is something to applaud as she knows just what to focus on throughout the film. It’s never feels sluggish or boring, everything fits together very well. Something that I took notice to is that Scafaria’s directing style is a lot like that of Cameron Crowe as music plays a huge factor in everything as well. Along the journey that takes us too many different locations we hear many great songs which are linked to Penny’s personality as we see and hear about her love of records. We hear songs from that of The Beach Boys, INXS, Wang Chung, The Walker Brothers among others. And like with Crowe’s films it all works together seamlessly to provide a well balanced mix tape to what the meaning behind the story is all about…life.
Another bonus to how great this film is, is it’s cast which features many great and sometime underrated actors right now. Much of the supporting cast is mostly seen in the first half of the movie before winding down to just the two leads. Of the supporting cast there is Adam Brody (Owen), Connie Britton (Diane), Rob Corddry (Warren), Melanie Lynskey (Karen), Patton Oswalt (Roache), T.J. Miller (Chipper Host/Darcy), Gillian Jackobs (Waitress/Katie), Martin Sheen (Frank), William Petersen (Trucker), and Tonita Castro (Elsa). And instead of breaking down each of their performances I will just say that all of them contributed to the story and all give wonderfully funny performances. Some performances to take note are Brody, Miller, Jackobs and Petersen who give it their all before we move on to the next part in the story.
But the best performances are done by the leads, Steve Carell as Dodge and Keira Knightley as Penny. Knightley who is mostly been seen throughout her career as the go to for period dramas takes a step out in a direction she has not been in in a few years and she handles herself quite well. Her comedy is spot on which isn’t that surprising since she does have “Bend It Like Beckham” under her belt. Either way it’s nice seeing her take a break from all that 18th century performing to do this. As for Carell, I thought he was perfect in this role which had me reminiscing about his fantastic performance in “Dan in Real Life”. He knows when to be funny and when to be serious, and he is absolutely never over the top like in some of his other roles. And together Carell and Knightly make this film what it is, giving wonderful and touching realism to the roles along with great chemistry. They work very well together bouncing lines and arguments off each other and I hope to possibly see them work together again.
Overall “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a wonderful film and one of my favorites so far this year. Lorene Scafaria has done an amazing job with not only the writing but also the directing. She delivers a compelling and sometimes very funny story about the end of days and brings together a fantastic cast that delivers great performances. This is definitely going to be a very underrated film much like “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” was four years ago. That being said I highly recommend it.