Hopefully it won’t leave you craving the end of the world.
Budding screenwriter Lorene Scafaria makes her directorial debut with the intriguing comedy drama Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. What’s immediately impressive about Scafaria’s films is the way in which she approaches the disaster movie subgenre. Rather than being obsessed with explosions, astronauts or superheroes, Scafaria is refreshing by crafting her narrative around a considered presentation of how ordinary people react to extraordinary situations.
The narrative follows the recently single Dodge, who, after his wife leaves in a panic, finds himself dealing with the apocalypse alone as a giant asteroid nears Earth. As the weight of reality dawns on him he decides to embark on a road trip with his beautiful, carefree and quirky neighbour to reunite with his high school sweetheart.
Audiences are invited into a world that is going to end, there is no avoiding it and from the moment the film begins they are made aware that there won’t be a hero to save the day. But that doesn’t hinder the resulting narrative of romance and friendship, which is actually charming, entertaining and frequently funny. After a sprightly, yet forlorn set up the film evolves into a by numbers road movie, but there is strength to each of Scafaria’s supporting characters to ensure that even when it’s conventional it is at least entertaining.
By focussing on an impulsive central romance, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is cast from a similar mould as Scafaria’s encouraging, but disappointing writing debut Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. While there’s no denying the chemistry the lead actors share within each of these film, but unfortunately these popular, typecast roles will continue to infuriate the audience. Carell and Knightly take advantage of these comfortable roles and are both in fine form; the former is no stranger to his character with previous experience in Dan in Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine.
Regrettably, the film loses its way it its conclusion. While it begins offbeat, loveable and daringly original – and manages to be entertaining even when it’s formulaic – the finale is cheesy, soppy and overly sentimental. The bitter disappointment at the ending leaves a nasty taste in the mouth that detracts from just how watchable this film previously was.