Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is an emotionally wrought film released in the middle of a slew of comedies and action films, yet somehow manages to hold water. While the previews may make it out as a darker comedy, and the title may indicate a mix of action and comedy, this film is more of a drama than anything, with hints of comedy thrown in just so the audience doesn’t leave the theater depressed; however, the film doesn’t necessarily end on a depressing note. Melancholy, absolutely, but depressing, I wouldn’t say so. This movie is absolutely one I recommend for those that can stand to face mortality in the face and just dwell for a bit. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone who can’t sit and dwell on their feelings following the film though, simply because the emotions received from it are so raw and powerful that you can’t really just shake it off after the movie. It leaves a lasting impression, and while that is a negative aspect for some, it makes for a brilliant movie.
Casting was terrific, with a more than competent Steve Carell playing his most serious, and coincidentally possibly his sincerest, role to date, and Keira Knightley does a fabulous job as an emotional 20something year old who wants nothing more than to journey home before the end of the world. There were other performances throughout the film that aren’t as noteworthy simply because we see Carell and Knightley in full swing. Rob Corrdry, Adam Brody, Patton Oswalt, Gillian Jacobs, and several other fairly well known actors take a minute or two of the screen time, but Knightley and Carell’s performances by far surpass all others not only in screen time but in depth as well. Carell plays Dodge, an insurance worker who, when the end of the world is announced, tries as hard as he can to continue life as if nothing is different while trying to overcome his wife running away. Knightley plays Penny, a music lover who is trying to reach her family after kicking her boyfriend to the curb. Both characters are developed wonderfully throughout the film, and by the end the audience really feels a sense of attachment to these characters who before meant nothing to us. The real magic in this film lies in the chemistry between Carell and Knightley as they grow in their respective characters. You can see the bond forming as the movie progresses, and that is such a phenomenal accomplishment in terms of acting and casting, so well done!
The plot is one which we’ve all seen before, but it doesn’t really feel recycled while you watch it progress. It’s the classic journey home scenario, with the end of the world twist thrown on to give it a sense of urgency. Of course, we’ve seen this twist before on a much more terrible film, Knowing, but, as I said, it was terrible, so you really haven’t missed anything if you haven’t seen it. This movie spends a lot of its run time on the journey to get Dodge to where he wants, and then Penny home in the UK. The parts leading up to that point aren’t long, but it is a very effective lead-in to the main story, and the end is incredibly emotional. The main voyage does come with its share of laughs, and many of these are much needed to cut down on the melancholy vibe of this film. While I would by no means classify this as a comedy, it does have some kind of hilarious moments that are worth the laugh. Of course, if you’re looking for a comedy, this is not the one for you. The laughs peppered in sparingly don’t offset the main message and direction that this film inevitably takes. This film does give a realistic depiction of what the world may become if the entire population was told their doom was quickly approaching and unavoidable.
Having never written a review on such an emotionally dependent movie before, this next section may be a bit rocky. I suppose I should probably discuss the reason it is so emotional and why it hits home for some so easily. The entire point of this film isn’t that love lasts, or anything cheesy like that. While there may be points where it seems like that is the message, the one that truly gets you is the fact that we’re all dying, and no amount of love, or fighting, or preparation can stop that. In this film, it is given through the framework of the world ending, but it relates equally to anything that’s happening realistically. Diseases, floods, hurricanes, etc. You can’t stop the inevitable, and the only things that one can be sure of are death and taxes. Basically, this movie ties you in a chair and makes you stare your own mortality in the face, and depending on where you are in life, that is extremely powerful. This movie, if you aren’t careful, will lure you in under the false pretense of a dark comedy and throw you into a whirlwind of emotion that you won’t easily escape for some time after. I think, before going into this movie, you have to be absolutely sure you want to see it. It is an excellent film, but it is so dark and melancholy that you really have to know you can handle it before seeing it.
This movie, while not exactly the comedy I expected going into it, was well worth the price of admission, and for those of you that believe you can deal with it at the moment, I strongly suggest going to see it. Obviously, as I’ve stated above, this movie is not for everyone, and viewer discretion is strongly advised not for language or anything, but for the pure emotions that it manages to conjure. If you feel as though you can watch it, I eagerly urge you to see it. Carell and Knightley are at the top of their games, and the entire film was just well made. It is an excellent film, but I can’t endorse it for everyone. This movie is one that you ultimately have to decide for yourself whether you can watch or not. If you decide you can, do not miss this film.
Oh, and I’m Seeking Pay for the End of the World.