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Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World - Review

Seeking A Friend For The End of The World

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

STEVE Carell remains, for my money, one of the more interesting comedic actors of the moment. His latest, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, continues his trend for looking for projects that offer something a little bit different.

It’s a dark romantic comedy drama that doesn’t really fit comfortably into any of its genres. And while flawed, it remains a consistently intriguing and belatedly heartfelt experience.

Carell stars as Dodge, a 40-something insurance salesman who suddenly finds himself facing the end of the world alone (given that a rogue asteroid is about to hit within weeks) after his wife does a runner.

Determining that a long gone ex-girlfriend was actually the love of his life he resolves to hit the road to find her, taking along his newly single British neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley) for company.

But over the course of their journey, Dodge comes to realise that true love might be right in front of him after all.

Writer-director Lorene Scafaria’s film may follow a fairly predictable path in the romance department but the pre-apocalyptic backdrop gives it an extra, often awkward dimension.

Her script can be funny but the humour is very dark and viewers may find that several chuckles will leave them feeling guilty afterwards.

And while the first half of proceedings offers plenty of absurdities, visual and verbal, the second half becomes much more emotional, which makes for a sharp shift in tone.

Audiences may well be divided over how well this works, especially as Carell’s character feels a little too emotionally distant early on, and Knightley’s remains a little too kooky throughout.

But both stars work hard to make their chemistry win through and there’s good, if fleeting, support from the likes of Rob Corddry, Connie Britton and Martin Sheen.

Scafaria’s optimistic outlook also provides a better alternative to the enforced bleakness of the likes of Lars Von Trier’s Domesday scenario, Melancholia, but not so much that it negates the ultimate tragedy at play.

Hence, while the road is often bumpy throughout this particular journey, the outcome is genuinely poignant and testament to the hard work put in by Knightley and especially Carell.

Once again, a role that may seem like a bit of a gamble pays nice dividends, even if it’s less of a winner than the likes of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Dan In Real Life or Crazy, Stupid Love.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 101mins
UK Release Date: July 13, 2012