Love, apoc­a­lypse style

The stars gel sur­pris­ingly well in this in­ti­mate tale of or­di­nary peo­ple car­ry­ing on to the bit­ter­sweet end, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

LEST THERE BE any generic con­fu­sion: when Steve Carell pops up sport­ing one of the more sat-upon ex­pres­sions from the hang­dog spec­trum, and count­ing down the days un­til a gi­ant, no-fool­ing as­ter­oid hits the earth, then you’re watch­ing a dram­edy.

Don’t freak out. An apoc­a­lyp­tic post- Lost in Trans­la­tion ro­mance be­tween Carell and Keira Knight­ley may sound like a chore – on pa­per ei­ther party might be matched up with a ze­bra with a greater de­gree of suc­cess. But in prac­tice they’re a win­ning team.

As the movie’s me­teror­ite hur­tles ever closer, Carell’s sad­sack hero Dodge is aban­doned by his wife and pur­sued by a keen, un­wanted Miss Lonelyhearts (Me­lanie Lynskey). So­ci­ety crum­bles into an orgy of vi­o­lence, ri­ot­ing and, well, or­gies.

“How about we dou­ble-stuff that cookie,” sug­gests Dodge’s de­bauched friend ( Young Adult’s Patton Oswalt) un­help­fully. Dodge, mean­while, con­tin­ues to drive to the of­fice ev­ery day to have point­less ex­changes with clients about the lim­i­ta­tions of their in­sur­ance pol­icy.

He meets his equally dis­tressed British neigh­bour, Penny (Knight­ley), by chance. A dis­or­ga­nized, bo­hemian type, Penny has missed the last flights across the At­lantic and won’t get to say “good­bye” to her fam­ily. She also holds a vi­tal, wrongly de­liv­ered piece of mail that will send her and Dodge off on a fi­nal, quirky road trip.

Lorene Sca­faria, the screen­writer be­hind Nick and No­rah’s In­fi­nite Playlist, makes a charm­ing di­rec­to­rial de­but with Seek­ing a Friend for the End of the World. Bor­row­ing some lo-fi, sci-fi cues from films such as Primer and An­other Earth, Sca­faria’s fo­cus stays in­ti­mate and earth­bound.

Tellingly, there are no lin­ger­ing shots of the sky or the fate­ful as­ter­oid. We’re treated in­stead to gal­lows hu­mour and a race be­tween ro­mance and a dooms­day clock. A re­lent­less count­down, re­lated mostly through in­ter­ti­tles, jol­lies the film along even when the jour­ney gets tan­gen­tial.

Knight­ley proves her­self Carell’s equal when it comes to mourn­ful com­edy. Cast­ing aside her pen­chant for play­ing brit­tle, frag­ile, oth­er­worldly crea­tures, she’s a lively manic pixie girl spark­ing off her co-star’s crumpled en­ergy.

It helps that Tim Orr’s free­wheel­ing lens­ing and Sca­faria’s nous for in­ti­mate mo­ments co­coons Carell and Knight­ley while ev­ery­body else loses it.

Keira’s fi­nite playlist: Seek­ing a Friend for the End of the World

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