Review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Overcomes Its Failings with a Heartfelt Story

July 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

When Seeking a Friend for the End of the World came out, I missed it in theaters. This was a horrible decision. Then I read some of the reviews, which weren’t awful but weren’t great either, and I put off seeing it again. This was an even worse decision. Now, finally, I made time to sit down and watch it. This was a wonderful decision.

Focus Features/Courtesy

Focus Features/Courtesy

I started this movie thinking it was just a comedy about the end of the world, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, the comedy element was there (and it was good comedy, too), but mainly it was the story of two people who were lost and trying to figure out what they wanted. The end of the film was tonally very different from the beginning, but I didn’t find it abrupt or jarring in any way. The story built up to its end in a way that made sense, and the longer I watched the more I loved it.

The thing I loved most about this film was the relationship between Steve Carell’s and Keira Knightley’s characters, Dodge and Penny. They were two people who were at completely different stages in their lives, but they were also in the exactly the same place. They were lost and unhappy, and with the imminent end of the world they were saddened by the lives they hadn’t lived. But in helping each other get to the people they wanted to see before a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth, the realized they were actually looking for each other. At first their age difference makes it seem like their relationship won’t go in a romantic direction, but when it finally gets there age is the last thing anyone is paying attention to. Dodge and Penny make such a lovely and hopelessly romantic couple that it would have been upsetting if they didn’t end up together.

As I said, the movie ends in a very different place from where it began, but that made the ending that much more powerful. It was no longer about the comedy of living an unfulfilled life; it was about the tragedy of it. There is a very fine line between the two, and this film moved from one side to the other in a wonderful and heartbreaking way. And yes, I cried.

Did Seeking a Friend for the End of the World have its flaws? Of course it did. But for her directorial debut Lorene Scafaria made a moving film, and for everything that didn’t go quite right, there was something else that went so well. This is the story of a couple we haven’t seen a million times set against an unexpected backdrop, and that makes it easy to ignore the less than perfect parts of the film. I can’t believe I waited so long to see it, and for anyone who has the same mindset I did, just give it a chance. It’s worth your time, I promise. Just remember to have a box of tissues handy.

4/5

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