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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Released 13 July 2012
Director Lorene Scafaria

Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Martin Sheen
Writer(s) Lorene Scafaria

Steve Golin, Joy Gorman, Steven M. Rales, Mark Roybal

United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia
Running Time 101 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama, romance
Rating 15A

Apocalypse wow.

Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is an apocalypse movie with a difference. In the first scene we hear a radio report detailing a failed attempt to divert a comet from its collision course with earth. That was man’s last hope, now all there is left to do is to wait out the last twenty-one days of humanity. The film does so not in the company of scientists or Presidents but instead looks at the reactions of the little people as they hurtle towards their impending demise.

Take our protagonist for example, insurance salesman Dodge (Steve Carell). When his wife literally runs out on him, he finds himself alone facing the end of the world. Not quite sure what to do next, Dodge continues more or less as normal, heading back to work the following day to deal with customer queries about the armageddon clause in their policies. A chance meeting with his flaky neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley) changes all this, as the pair hit the road together to track down Dodge’s high school sweetheart.

So the structure of the narrative is that of an episodic road movie as Dodge and Penny meet various people on similar quests. Some episodes are more successful than others, but the script is of sufficient quality to entertain throughout. Scafaria, who wrote the enjoyable Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has a knack for wry, witty dialogue and punctuates the proceedings with jolts of black humour (Dodge’s colleague plunging to his death from the top of their office block, middle class parents encouraging their children to join in on their binge drinking).

The central pair meanwhile are both on good form. Carell sticks to what he knows as the lovable everyman - a role he has been perfecting since The 40 Year Old Virgin. He is capable and charming as always. Knightley is vaguely hyperactive but ultimately likable in her role as the cute, indie girl with a penchant for vinyl (of course). The chemistry between them though is not quite right - I can believe them as mis-matched friends but as lovers? Perhaps not.

Despite this drawback, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is certainly a refreshingly good-hearted film, peppered with some fine laugh out loud dialogue. A fine mix of sweet and sour that marks Scafaria as one to watch.

- Linda O’Brien