Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love is all you need


                What would you do if the world was to end in three weeks? Who would you spend your last days with? Those are the questions asked by "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World", a new romantic movie starring Keira Knightley and Steve Carell. As the asteroid approaches the Earth and the world as we know it approaches its end Dodge (Carell) meets his neighbour Penny (Knightley) and goes on a road trip with her. During the trip they will meet some unusual characters, get to know themselves and each other and of course, fall in love. Pretty much standard road trip, at least in movies. Except it shouldn't be.

                Setting a story in a situation where everyone knows the world is going to end in few weeks opens a ton of questions and gives a lot of possible directions. Unfortunately the first thing I thought of after watching the movie was how it took one of the least interesting, asking very few questions along the way. But I won't write about what the movie could've (should've?) been like, for it would be a lot of writing and it wouldn't say much about the movie itself. Instead I'll try to point out what I've got out of it.

                The approaching end gives everyone a feeling of some sort of liberation. Liberation from jobs, commitments, laws, social norms, but moral principles as well, or so it seems. Doug's friends try to set him up with some girl at a party and one of them, in a sequence that is supposed to be funny, tells him how he every night has sex with a different girl since the news of the impending doom broke because now everyone is up for anything, and suggests they should do a threesome with the girl who's eyeing Doug. It makes you wonder if people would really just have sex with anyone if the world was about to end, but the tricky part comes a few moments later. Doug, hiding in a bathroom, gets a visit from Diane, his best friend's wife, and she kisses him telling him now she's no one's. It really made me wonder. Does the knowledge of our end nearing absolve us from all our sins? Or do we just lose our moral compass in the presence of death? I know I would probably do some things I normally wouldn't, if I knew we would all die in a few days, but nothing that could hurt the ones I love. At least I think so now. Is it possible that we all get that selfish in the end?

                What everyone seem to want in the end is a little love. Doug searches for his high-school sweetheart and Penny tries to get to her family and they fall in love with one another doing so. Comedic elements which should provide counterpart for the setting of the movie don't work as good as they should, mostly because they're abruptly intercepted with very serious events which creates an uneasy feeling and an unbalanced movie as a result. It still has a few funny fragments (a dog called Sorry, some of Carell's lines) and ends up being a feel-good movie, however strange that sounds. But that just isn't enough. The acting is mostly disappointing. Knightley just doesn't manage to be convincing and Carell is pretty much the same as everywhere, and as much as that suited this role it isn't a compliment. One thing that deserves a compliment though is the soundtrack which reminded me of some great songs like Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love with You".

                There could be a lot more said about the movie plot-wise but it just isn't worth it. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" is a nice romantic movie which doesn't nearly fulfill the potential of its story. After Von Trier's "Melancholia" it would have been nice to see a well done lighter approach to the end-of-the-world subject, but I guess I'll move back to dramas and see what Abel Ferrara has to say about it ("4:44 Last Day on Earth").

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