Sunday, November 4, 2012

DVDebut -- the overlooked gem, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

In the canon of great love stories, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD deserves a place, and over the years, I suspect, it will find it -- as the movie slowly builds its reputation via word of mouth. This is not a "great" love story in the big-budget, spell-it-all-out Dr. Zhivago/Gone With the Wind way. Instead it boasts a smart, sweet independent spirit, together with a simplicity that is never simple-minded, as it tells its tale of a pair of misfit, asteroid-crossed not quite friends who become sudden lovers as they get to know each other in the days preceding The End.

Why do genuine end-of-world pix (rather than the faux versions like Armageddon and Deep Impact), when they're done with intelli-gence and conviction, work so damn well? The apocalyptic theme itself is perhaps charged with enough importance that a good filmmaker feels bound to honor it. Certainly those who made Last Night (Don McKeller), Before the Fall (Tres días, by F. Javier Gutiérrez), and now this film by Lorene Scafaria (pictured above center, with her stars -- three of the best "end-of-worlders" made so far -- honor the psychology, sociology, humanity, fear, depres-sion and aggression inherent in the subject. All three writer/direc-tors are creative enough  to convince us that the end really is at hand while providing crackerjack entertainment in the process.

Ms Scafaria (who also wrote the delightful Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) again scores with a light, bright screenplay full of quietly funny dialog and ideas that sometimes take awhile to sink in (the line about the "school desk" stumped us momentarily, until my partner figured it out). And oh, the great cast that Scafaria and her casting directors (Nicole Abeller and Jeanne McCarthy) have assembled! The two leads, Steve Carell (above, and at bottom) and Keira Knightley, are lovely together. He, in fact, is turning into American film's current, Gary Cooper-type "everyman" (from Crazy Stupid Love and Hope Springs to this) without losing his wonderfully dry, ironic humor. Sure he's a fine comedian, but he's proving even better as a just-plain good, versatile actor.

Ms Knightley, manages a graceful and assured performance, even as she seems a bit klutzy and thoughtless. We warm up to her at just about the same speed and level that does Carell's character; by the end of film, we're in love, too. For a supporting cast, some of the best talent around has been corralled, including, above, Connie Britton (at right) and Rob Corddry.

Look for a nearly unrecognizable Adam Brody (above), Derek Luke (below), Melanie Lynsky, Martin Sheen, William Petersen and a bunch more. What a cast this is -- and how very well does each actor deliver!

The film is full of events, small (seen close-up) and large (seen on TV: smart for budget reasons), and some that seem quite reminiscent of Last Night. Each one grabs us, either because of its humor, fun, surprise, and occasionally, how it moves us. Mark Moses (below) as a TV anchorman on his final program, provides a lovely example of that last category.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World barely got seen in theaters this summer. Opening to mixed reviews, it played a week or two and sank. Yet now, on the IMDB, it has garnered a rating of nearly 7 out of 10, from almost 20,000 viewers. Clearly, it is pleasing those who manage to see it.

For Mr. Carell, alone, the movie is worth a view. From Focus Features, and running the just-about-perfect-length of 101 minutes, it arrived on DVD and Blu-ray last month, for sale and/or rental. Don't let it get away this time....

No comments: