Film Review: 27 July
Keira Knightley may not be everyone’s cup of tea if the world is about to implode
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
Until approximately a fortnight ago, the absolute last people I could have stood hanging out with while the world came to an abrupt end were Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.
After seeing this, the jury's still out on Knightley, who as sweet, dippy Penny has borrowed Zooey Deschanel's (New Girl, 500 Days Of Summer) Hat Of Total Kookiness with mixed results. But Steve Carell: Yes. A hundred magical, heartbreaking times, yes. This is in part down to Lorene Scafaria's script, but mostly due to the sheer hold Carell has over the screen.
Carell plays insurance salesman Dodge, whose terrible name initially seems to be the most interesting thing about him. Certainly his wife seems to think so. On hearing that a final attempt to see off a rogue, Earthshattering asteroid has failed, and the planet has three weeks until it is destroyed, she leaps out of the car, never to be seen again.
Dodge is melancholy, but not irritatingly so. Faced with the gleeful, end-of-the-world debauchery of his neighbourhood – parents teaching their children how to drink martinis – he does what everyone does at a terrible party and hides in a bathroom. Finally, his neighbour Penny falls annoyingly into his life with a delivery of late mail, leading Dodge to try and seek out a longlost girlfriend, and help Penny find a plane to get back to England to be with her family.
Arguably, it's Dodge who makes this bittersweet, funny, but ultimately tragic film. Penny is likeable up to a point, and that point tends to be where you want to smack her round the face with the LPs she's constantly, kookily, carrying around. But like Penny, you feel safe with Dodge, who turns out to be kind, wry and have Martin Sheen for a father, all excellent qualities in an apocalyptic friend.
So little of the couple's road trip is credible – for, inevitably, they will become a couple – but that is actually the film's highlight. The idea of the world ending is so unthinkable that, why on earth wouldn't you set up a permanent stoned orgy in a chain restaurant, or meet up with an ex-boyfriend who owns a fleet of Smart cars and has somehow created a survivalist army hideout underneath his house? Or line up in a long line by the beach to have you and your family christened by a nice vicar standing in the waves? There's no way of knowing how you'd react, and while the scenarios that Scafaria has chosen here don't always ring true, they're certainly always interesting.
By the time Martin Sheen has turned up, wonderfully, the only thing for sure about this film is that you'll probably never look at a plane again without bursting into tears.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918