What would happen if we learned the world were about to end?
Most movies conjecture that an apocalypse would bring humanity closer, albeit with a few skirmishes along the way. People, on the whole, would come together to help the weak and do what they could to fight the extinction of the species.
In "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," we finally have a more credible prediction. Writer-director Lorene Scafaria, though only 34, understands that reactions to a cataclysm would fall into more than two categories: those who quietly assume the task of saving humanity and those whose fear gets the better of them.
So Connie Britton's character makes a pass at her husband's best friend, arguing, "Nobody's anybody's anything anymore." Patton Oswalt's character is even more proactive with his sex life, noting that the apocalypse has make it a lot easier for a schlub like him to get laid. Respectable professionals decide to try heroin. One woman declares with a hopeful smile, "I think I'm going to finally take that pottery class." And one man's wife, hearing on the radio that the mission sent to detour the asteroid heading towards Earth has failed, gets out of her car without a word and runs off to who knows where.
|'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'|
|3.5 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley|
|Director: Lorene Scafaria|
|Rated: R for language, including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence|
|Running time: 101 minutes|
Steve Carell plays that unlucky husband, Dodge. His response to his upcoming doom is less common, but still plausible: He keeps flossing. But a chance meeting with a free-spirited, flighty neighbor goads him into action. Dodge discovers that Penny (Keira Knightley) never gave him the letter from his "one that got away" when the postman mistakenly delivered it to her. To make amends, Penny insists on getting Dodge to his old sweetheart. In return, he says he might be able to get her on a plane to her family in England before the asteroid destroys the planet in three weeks.
That's the setup for a delightfully unconventional apocalyptic love story. Carell and Knightley are an unlikely pairing. But they're perfect for these quirky parts. As with most films focused on Armageddon, there are a few unexplained -- and unlikely -- circumstances. Most citizens have abandoned their jobs, but electricity remains running, for example. Some countries still have phone service, while others do not.
But these minor points are easily ignored in a film this special. With her debut as director, Scafaria has created something really unique. If character comes out in a crisis, human nature itself is exposed in all its ugliness and beauty in this story of two people destined to find each other -- almost before it's too late.