The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Not the film I’d watch if the world was about to end

with 20 comments

SAF_3212.NEFIf you knew that he world was going to end in three weeks, how would you spend those last few days? Would you be praying? Drinking? Fucking? Dancing? Crying and cursing whoever sent that asteroid in the direction of Earth? Or would you rather kill yourself sine you’re going to die anyway and don’t want to prolong your suffering?

“What if…?” I never get tired of asking that question. The funny thing is that the answer to it always tells more about the life we’re living now than about the future. When you imagine the incoming disaster, your priorities will suddenly fall into place. Some things matter a lot more than we give them credit to, others a lot less. Look Death in the eyes and you’ll notice a switch.

Coming from this I had hoped that I would like Seeking a friend for the End of the World a little more than I did. This movie is about what would have followed if Bruce Willis had failed to blow the asteroid into pieces. Like in Melancholia we know right from the start that this isn’t going to end well. The people we’re going to spend time with are bound to die in a cosmic collision. What we’ll see is how they spend their last days.

But apart from the set-up, the two movies don’t have a lot in common. Where Melancholia was powerful and knocked me over with its beauty and artfulness, Seeking a friend for the End of the World is lightweight – a little bit too light for my taste.

I’ve never had a good chemistry with Steve Carell, who here goes on a road trip in company with Keira Knightley as the end is approaching. And what is worse: Keira doesn’t seem to “feel it” either. I don’t buy into them as a couple, and this is a bit of a problem when it’s clearly intended to be a romantic comedy. But it’s not just the romance that is lacking; the comedy is as well. People talk with voices that are slightly exaggerated, as if they’re saying something funny. The problem is that they aren’t. Instead they undermine the drama that comes with a situation that is this desperate. You don’t take it as seriously as it deserves, but you can’t fully laugh at it either. You’re stuck somewhere in between with a couple you don’t believe in for a second.

I buy into the idea to follow some people during their last days in a world that is going to end. It’s a shame that it was wasted.

The dog was cute though, I’ll give it that much.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Lorene Scafaria, US 2012) My rating: 2/5

Written by Jessica

January 14, 2013 at 1:00 am

20 Responses

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  1. I reviewed this myself recently Jessica and couldn’t agree more. I really didn’t like this tedious nonsense. I don’t care much for Carrel or Knightley and it pails in comparison to the likes of Melancholia or Perfect Sense. One thing is for sure, if the world was ending, I wouldn’t waste my time on this dross.

    Mark Walker

    January 14, 2013 at 1:22 am

    • Glad to hear you’re mentioning Perfect Sense! It hasn’t been released in Sweden, but I ordered it from abroad and now I’ve got it in my hands, ready to watch as soon as I can find the time. I’m really looking forward to it, hoping it will hit the right notes for this type of film.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2013 at 7:38 am

      • I absolutely loved Perfect Sense Jessica. It’s not that often I give out top marks but I did for that. I thought it was a beautifully told story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’ll look out for your review.

        Mark Walker

        January 14, 2013 at 10:51 am

        • That’s lovely to hear. I’ll let you know soon what I thought of it.

          Jessica

          January 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

  2. Excellent post … thanks for your honest opinion. I may still give this a go, but I’ll wait until it comes to Netflix Instant.

    quirkybookandfilmbuff

    January 14, 2013 at 2:36 am

    • Thanks. It’s not a horrible film. It’s easily digested, something you could spend your time on if you’ve got a sick day or on an airplae tour.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2013 at 7:39 am

  3. I didn’t necessarily think it was intended as a comedy after that prologue. I kind of thought it wanted to stake out a middle ground – which you allude to – between comedy and something sweeter and more dramatic. It didn’t completely work and I can understand all the points you make but I just had a soft spot for this one.

    As far as what I do when the world ends – buy a nice bottle of high end scotch, crank Kylie Minogue and dance my ass off.

    Nick

    January 14, 2013 at 2:52 am

    • I really wanted to like it more than I did. With a different casting and taking away that “this is funny” tone in their voices, I think it would have worked a lot better. The idea isn’t shabby. It was just the execution that didn’t work for me.

      I’ve got too many ideas for how to meet the end of the world. Sitting at the brim on top of Grand Canyon looking out over the world in company with a beloved one is the one that comes to my mind right now.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2013 at 7:43 am

  4. It was very lightweight indeed. Although the idea was interesting and the whole story did keep me entertained I have forgotten almost everything about it now…

    Nostra

    January 14, 2013 at 9:43 am

    • I didn’t hate it. It’s just that with this kind of movies I set my expectations higher since it’s a genre that I hold dear. End-of-the-world-films.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  5. How weird. I watched this last night and actually preferred it to Melancholia. LOL Maybe I need to check myself. HAHA

    • It’s not necessarily a reason to worry, rather the opposite I’d say. I think most people would find it easier to digest this film than Melancholia, though Melacholia is more impressive visually. I preferred M though since I’m weird like that.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

  6. Haven’t seen it yet, I feel like a depressing movie to watch all by myself isn’t a way to go during my last weeks living abroad. Yet, I get your point of view, I was already skeptical when I saw the trailer – love and comedy when the world is about to end? Give me a break, I bet This is the end… (coming summer 2013) will do a much better job and humoring us with the end of the world.

    mettelray

    January 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    • I don’t think you’ll get depressed by this. It doesn’t have the emotional weight and impact of Melancholia. Or many other movies that are screening right now for that sake. I’d rather watch this than Amour without having someone to hug afterwards.

      Jessica

      January 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      • Okay, I will see, it depends very much on my mood and it’s weird at the moment.

        mettelray

        January 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

  7. Jessica, it’s interesting that you mention it as being too lightweight. I actually think it worked better when it was trying to be lighter, and the issues started when it got more serious with the more standard romantic issues. That’s when I didn’t buy it, though I liked both lead performances.

    Dan Heaton

    January 14, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    • I think the problem is that it’s grasping for both, ending up somewhere in between, a bit lost and indecisive.

      Jessica

      January 15, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  8. I liked this movie. Sure, it’s not a great movie but I enjoyed my 90 minutes. If we compare movies to Melancholia, pretty much every movie would be lightweight 🙂

    carrandas

    January 18, 2013 at 12:39 am

    • It’s ok but I felt that the idea was a little wasted. I guess it didn’t help that I’m not the biggest Carell fan there is.

      Jessica

      January 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      • I do seem to be one of the only people on the planet that like Keira Knightley too, so that helps.

        carrandas

        January 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm


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