Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley
Two nice, lonely people meet and fall in love in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," a dramedy set against the apocalypse. While the cognitive dissonance in this tricky movie can be overwhelming, writer-director Lorene Scafaria and stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley nearly pull it off.
But Scafaria's script doesn't go far enough in exploring the unique setting.
Focusing on individuals who elect to keep living as normally as possible, with the world slated to be wiped out by an asteroid, the film plays things safe when they should be outrageous.
With weeks left until the destruction of humanity, neighbors Dodge (Carell) and Penny (Knightley) meet for the first time in their New York apartment building. Amid a massive riot that threatens their safety, the pair takes off on a road trip so Dodge can reunite with a long-lost love.
There are moments of inspiration sprinkled throughout the movie - an extended, debauched party, a visit to a Friendly's with an amorous waitstaff - and the first-time director's vision of the end-of-days is rife with poignant personal touches. Carell, playing things straighter than ever before, and Knightley make a likable, if unlikely, pair.
But save for a few isolated moments, the movie handles the premise with a muted, demure sensibility that simply makes it not fun at all. In fact, with the aura of inevitable death hanging over the film's every moment, it's hard to feel anything but profoundly depressed by the gentle romance at its core.