Seeking that special someone to spend the rest of the world’s days with…
Keira Knightley and Steve Carell take a road trip as they journey to be with the ones they love.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World-Official Trailer, seekingafriendMOVIE and photos from Focus Features.
For one of the most charmingly sweet and touchingly believable, big screen chemistries with possibly the most thought out soundtrack since Somewhere in Time (1980), you really can’t get better than this film.
In this movie, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World (2012) our leading lady is an English rose of an actress, usually in dramas set in centuries gone by and possibly involving a corset. He is a much praised, award-winning comedy actor and is typically found with a hopeless love life (or hopeful).
But with both these diverse acting talents, Keira Knightley and Steve Carell come together in this comedy-drama, apocalyptic tale. This is a surprisingly heartwarming and utterly memorable on-screen partnership and supported by some familiar comic faces.
The film starts with a radio announcement telling of how man’s last hope has been destroyed with the day to end all days, now imminent in three weeks. This is because a space shuttle has failed to stop an incoming enormous asteroid, which is now headed to Earth.
On Earth, Dodge (Carell) and his wife, Linda (Nancy Carell, Carell’s off-screen wife) hear the news in their car. Linda flees from the car in horror at his unsettling reaction to this news. As Dodge is left alone, with his indifference to the upcoming events.
After the in-film graphics tell us there are 21 days to go till the end of the world, a TV news report is seen on TV and read by a TV anchorman (Mark Moses). As Dodge continues his daily routine of work, sleep and ready meals. However, he is shaken as a lifeless body falls on his car.
With 14 days to go, there are traffic jams everywhere. Luckily there are no Emma Stone and her La La Land (2016) cast members singing and dancing about it and holding up the traffic. We see how the near future Armageddon affects Dodge’s life as an insurance salesman. Be it his chance for that always wanted a promotion at work (as everyone who is anyone leaves) to selling new policies to customers to cover the impending disaster.
Dodge is told by Diane, his friend Warren’s wife that Linda was unhappy in their marriage. Dodge’s cleaner continues her job too, despite his convoluted encouragement to spend her final days with her family. He attends a party at his friends’ house, cue Warren and Diane (Rob Corddry and Connie Britton).
There he observes others (spot Amy Schumer and Melanie Lynskey) making plans for their limited future be it telling relatives their true feelings or taking drugs or holding orgies. His friends’ underaged children get drunk and several women, including Diane, make passes at him during the evening.
These scenes and others’ shameless attitudes almost sicken him. Dodge returns home alone, and rifling through his box of memories, he finds and plays the harmonica. Then he reflects on his life and remembers his first true love, Olivia. He spots his next-door neighbour Penny (Knightley) crying outside his window on the fire escape, in the dark.
He invites her in, and they open up to each other about their respective sad love stories. She tells him of her relationship break-up. She is tearful, saying that she chose to be with her now ex-boyfriend, Owen over being with her family at home in England. She tells how because of Owen, she missed the last plane to return home to them.
Dodge tells her of Olivia, his one true love that got away. Penny falls into a deep sleep. The next day Penny gives him some mail of his that was indirectly given to her and she inadvertently tells him of Linda’s affair. Dodge despondent, overdoses on window cleaner and cough syrup in a park.
It’s now 12 days to go, with Dodge waking up in the park and tied to a homeless dog, which he adopts. On returning home, in the unopened letters, he finds one from Olivia, telling him he was her one true love. As riots hit his neighbourhood, Dodge vows to find her. With a dog in tow, and after meeting Owen at her flat, Dodge rouses Penny from her deep sleep. With the two ex-love birds still bickering, the three head for the car as the riots continue.
After leaving Owen behind in their haste to escape, Dodge promises Penny if she helps him find Olivia, he will help her get a plane to her family in England. As he knows someone with a plane. Penny and Dodge then set off on a road trip to Dodge’s home town with revelations, reunions and remarkable encounters with some wonderful characters en route. But as to whether Penny returns home or Dodge finds his true love, that’s for me to know and you to find out… in the usual ways of course.
So my thoughts on this movie, it’s a wonderful pairing for this well written, odd couple movie. On first hearing of this screen partnership before watching the film, I was admittedly more than sceptical. But like other odd couple pairings such as Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves in Somethings Gotta Give (2003) and Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in Trainwreck (2015), I was totally blown away, by how well they matched.
There is endearing screen chemistry between Carell and Knightley. Both are well suited to their roles, as Dodge the man who plays by the rules in contrast to Penny’s free spirit. You feel their off-beat connection, from their opening scenes until those sadly inevitable credits. Both the leading actor and actress gently encourage each other in their own respective niches. And their on and off-screen rapport and support are felt in their joint scenes.
Knightley made her character uniquely hers, with her lovely English accent and a touchingly realistic and heartrending performance befitting the script. And as an expat, you feel that she showed great empathy for her character. She easily convinced me as an expat with her family living in another country as the asteroid hurtled on its way.
I feel I felt this performance showed exactly how I would feel if away from my family in Scotland in such a situation. In a phone conversation with her family, Knightley also gave a tender performance and you could feel her heart was broken at not being with them at this time. It was hard not to feel intense sympathy for her character’s predicament. This scene apparently not only got me in tears but also the cast and crew who watched her as she filmed it.
Carell in his initial appearances at the start compared with where Dodge warmed to Penny was wonderfully acted. His unspoken words but facial expressions as Dodge developed more intense feelings for Knightley’s character were a marked change from those with his screen wife.
In contrast to these, his later scenes with Martin Sheen (playing Dodge’s estranged father) were well written with respect to these characters, their histories and the impending disaster. His more dramatic scenes with Knightley were played tenderly and sincerely, and on occasion his characters dry humour shone through complementing rather than detracting from the drama.
Although Carell and Knightley’s on-screen pairing rightly dominated the storyline, it was a nice touch showing the reactions of other individuals to the news of the impending disaster. These almost snapshots of their lives, showed their reactions to the asteroid, in healthy and unhealthy ways.
These are seen in their spoken script where a friend becomes honest and tells Dodge about his wife’s unhappiness. Or their actions, with his friend buying expensive cigars. Or as shown in unspoken ways, with one of the pair’s acquaintances shown to have an overabundance of food.
There were those people who became more reckless, such as a nurse applying a tourniquet for injecting drugs at a wild party. Dodge’s cleaner and some offside restaurant workers continued their working roles until the end helping others. In the latter, another nice touch was the use of updates on the impending disaster, using a TV news programme. All the characters easily struck the balance of drama and comedy.
In the supporting cast, it was lovely to spot a few more well-known faces as the pair’s road trip continues. Martin Sheen gave a solid, moving but yet all too short appearance as Dodge’s estranged father. The circumstances leading to his character’s final moments were both touching and jarring. I won’t say why it was jarring but let’s just say I would have liked more of a fitting way to end his character’s involvement in the tale. Lighter moments were seen in T.J Miller and Gillian Jacobs’s OTT gave enthusiastic performances as off-road restaurant workers.
The film soundtrack complemented the movie beautifully with their timing in the movie, and both the lyrics and mood behind the songs were hauntingly accurate. Songs including The Walker Brothers, The Sun Aint Going to Shine (Anymore) and The Hollies’ The Air That I Breathe.
As the story progresses you become so involved with Penny and Dodge, you fervently hope these likeable characters will meet their wishes to be with the ones they love before the asteroid hits the earth or the credits roll. I won’t say which comes first, but know that you will be overcome by those final scenes which leave a lasting effect on you.
But it’s lovely to see this film pair, proving in the words of… the Australian soap Neighbours (1985-) (yup, that show that launched the careers of Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe and Chris Hemsworth) theme song says;
Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours,
With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend,
Neighbours, should be there for one another
That’s when good neighbours become good friends.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
The End of the World Blogathon 2018, No 13
This post was added to MovieMovieBlogBlog and The Midnite Drive-In, End of the World Blogathon. Other films with this cast include Rob Corddry in Warm Bodies. Steve Carell was written about in my Stupid, Crazy, Love review. Keira Knightley stars in Love Actually and Atonement. T.J. Miller stars in Deadpool.