Netflix Suggested Viewing
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, from here on referred to as ‘the film’ or ‘the movie’, is a mixed bag of lovely feelings and ideas. The obvious reference is that it feels like a mixtape in film form but that’s something stupid that Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who is an idiot, would say (or something along the lines of “It’s an apocalyptically good time!” Anything to score an ad blurb). This movie is the writing/directorial debut of 37 year old Lorene Scafaria, writer of Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist who apparently charges by the letter when it comes to film titling. But the reference itself is apropos, there are several shifts in tone that feel like a change in mood on a playlist that builds to a powerful emotional denouement. I have been putting off watching this movie for awhile for silly but not at all silly reasons. Nut jobs and religious crazies have been babbling about the end of the world since probably the very beginning of it but it gets a little hard to point and laugh when 97% of the world’s scientific community has said, essentially, “Lololol, I know, right. Haha, but seriously. (Clears throat) We are kind of fucked. ROFLCOPTER.” I don’t know why they sound like they are texting. So that bled my enthusiasm somewhat. But this is a good film, unabashedly sentimental and funnier than I expected.
It also may be little obvious given the subject matter but I couldn’t help but wish for a little more time with the movie, the supporting cast is spectacular. I’m also not going to dish on those cameos because they are half the fun in an already surreal experience (with the exception of Connie Britton and her awkward pass at Steve Carrell’s character, end of the world or not, I’d sex the Lights right out of her Friday Night). But none of these… (God I hope my mom isn’t still reading my blog). But none of these great actors get more than a minute or two of screen time, the focus is squarely on Carrell and his journey, as well as the hastily developed interaction with Keira Knightley. This is an odd pairing that somehow works despite their aesthetic (?) differences. Because she’s gorgeous and he’s Steve Carrell. In case that wasn’t obvious.
Seeking, in the first act or so, realizes one of my greatest fears and it is not the actual end of times or any general thoughts on mortality; it’s the potential that in those dire final hours it will still be possible to feel alienated and mystified by the rest of the human race. In this, Carrell is the perfect choice for the lead, he can communicate so much wounded internal conflict with his eyes alone and he is essentially playing the straight man to the world’s comic foil. All parties are accounted for, the riots, the orgies, and the folks who would carry right on with their work. And, in a way, they are all lunatics but who isn’t when you really think about it. As Gil Grissolm astutely points out, a person shouldn’t know when his time is coming, it’s unnatural, but when that knowledge is in hand where does one’s priorities lay? In a perfect world, we are afforded enough time to find a dream and fulfill it, and perhaps share that experience with someone or someones along the way. But this is rarely the case, in fact, this narrative is the exception to the rule; most stories end unfinished, as an ellipsis, in the middle of a word, or an incomplete quote.
Through and through my writing I’ve tried to find a way to verbalize a feeling that permeates Seeking, a sense of romantic urgency and an awareness of the things that make the end of the world a tragedy rather than the logical finale to what feels like, on occasion, a train without a conductor. Maybe that’s not completely accurate, because there is more complacency than I’d expect in a film where the two leads are trying to reach their family or the lost love of their life with an absolute deadline in mind. But that urgency is there when what is essentially a road trip during Armageddeon becomes something else.
This film is wonderful, by the way. It inspires a morbid internal conversation about love and loss and purpose, a dialogue that is normally visited on old folks. I remember as a kid deciding with ignorant certainty that when I found love I would disregard all the seemingly irrelevant obstacles that apparently plagued less enlightened souls and fight for what I knew, even as a sprout, was most important. Little did I know how how excellent we can become at obfuscating over the years, at taking connections, even failed ones, for granted and ultimately living as though there is no expiration date. Because I eat irony for breakfast with a glass of heart-healthy grapefruit juice and an English muffin, I won’t delve too deeply into the actual ending of this film so far as to say I found a kindred spirit in Dodge, Carrell’s character. I’d like to think I’ll find that feeling of completion at that sad height, a satisfied sense of purpose fulfilled. In his words, It couldn’t have happened any other way. It had to happen now. If it were me, at the end of everything, I know nothing would keep me from-