2012 is the year of apocalyptic films. Stemming from the assumption that the world is going to end this year (well, we have just over two months to go), it seems that Hollywood has found a new angle to portray the end of the world, which didn’t involve freak computer viruses or aliens.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World stars Steve Carrell as Dodge, an insurance salesman whose mundane life doesn’t stop even after mankind is doomed, due to an incoming asteroid, and his wife has inexplicably run out on him. As he reminisces about his childhood sweetheart one night, he meets Penny (Keira Knightley), a neighbour who is distraught as she is unable to return to be with her family in England. Together, they embark on a sentimental road trip as Dodge promises to get her back to her family in return for her to help him find his first love.
Given the premise of the film, not to mention the different angle it offers over similar asteroid films such as Deep Impact and Armageddon, there is a lot of potential about a film that is not about the possible end of the world, but rather the impending end of the world. There is a sense of inhibited craziness throughout, ranging from taking heroin to assassins-for-hire, and you can’t help but idly wonder if the characters’ wildness are overcompensating for something. The film essentially presents itself as an open playground of cool-things-to-do-before-you-die but it is like nobody dares to think outside of the box in terms of originality, preferring the shock factor and the guaranteed quick laughs instead.
However, Seeking a Friend… is not like other apocalyptic films – it isn’t buried under numerous layers of CGI but instead, presents that surprising, liberating feeling to enjoy the last few weeks of existence rather than that desperate, all-too-familiar race to save themselves. Just like Scafaria’s previous screenwriting credit, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the key to the film is the connection between the characters, after all – that’s what the title of the film implies. Whether it is past, present or the not-too-distant future, first-time director Scafaria focuses on the people that are taken for granted in life until the time that they really matter (family, friends, first loves) and places them amidst a sunkissed backdrop. As mismatched as they look, Carrell shares moderately warm chemistry with Knightley as they settle into the respective mid-lifer and quirky, whimsical chancer roles a bit too comfortably.
With uneven laughs, sensitivity and bittersweetness in one tidy package, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World is a credible directorial debut for Scafaria but it only becomes watchable after the first 45 mins.
Extras include outtakes, trailer and two featurettes: one traditional behind-the-scenes and the more interesting ‘Music for the End of the World‘, where the cast and Scafaria chooses the music they want to listen to before the end of days.
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World is out on DVD & blu-ray 5th November 2012.
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Stars: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Melanie Lynskey
Runtime: 101 min
Country: USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia