Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: BD Review
Nov 9th, 2012
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It's the end of the world as Steve Carell and Keira Knightley know it, and they feel - well, it's complicated....
Universal / 101 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: October 23, 2012
A Melancholia for the hipster rom-com set, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World has the dubious task of affirming that in these frustratingly finite lives of ours, love is all that matters. When news that the Earth only has three weeks left before BOOM!, Dodge Petersen's (Steve Carell's) wife alerts him that she can't imagine spending the end of days with the guy, so she jumps ship, leaving the poor schmuck to fend for himself - she'd rather be with the people she really loves than Dodge.
As heartbreak outpaces the looming impact of asteroid Matilda as Dodge's number one concern, we learn that another nearby heart has been shattered: Dodge's neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) has a particularly vocal breakup with her beau that leaves her shattered. As will happen, these two lonely hearts come together under the narrative dome of impending apocalypse and attempt to cobble meaning out of their crumbling worlds.
Yet because Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was written and directed by Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist helmer Lorene Scafaria, it should come as no surprise that a postmodern mix-tape charm starts to infuse this sad new film's structure and meaning. We learn that Penny's been "holding on" to Dodge's mail for a while, and in among the junk and bills is a love letter from the guy's high school flame that gives Dodge an optimistic hope for love in the face of global ruin. Fuse that with the notion that Dodge knows of a pilot who might be able to get Penny back to the UK to be with her family (commercial airlines are no more) and you have yourself a movie.
And as a whole, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is neither entirely unwatchable nor particularly effective. Carell and Knightley both infuse their characters with surprisingly lifelike emotional gravitas that is almost enough to save the film from its own maudlin precociousness. By the time the whole thing goes up in flames, Seeking emerges as a well-meaning, but overly wistful tale of love and change. It's nice that the film feels off the beaten track, but it's also not surprising that it failed to find an audience when it was released this summer.