Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movie Review: "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World"

I really loved this movie.

I wasn't going to write about it, honestly, because for most of it I just sat there crying. It affected me on that level where you can't exactly put it into words.

Decided to try anyway. Won't give away any secrets.

The plot of the movie is evident in the name. What's different is the focus on feelings.

Whereas most end-of-the-world movies are big on action and special effects, here all of that is muted. We are left with a lot of lonely people trying to connect one last time before everything ends.

To see the trailer you would think that Steve Carell ("Dodge") is the star. He's not. Basically he plays his type - sort of wooden, awkward, solemn. He does it well, but it's one-dimensional. (My husband said that he basically continued the same character from "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and he was right.)

We've seen many movies where the man is sort of "normal" or traditional and falls for a kooky-type gal:

* Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston in "Along Came Polly"

* Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

* Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall" (and "Manhattan")

In this movie the female lead, Knightley ("Penny") takes the stage. Like Winslet and Keaton before her (not Aniston, who I like more as a personality than as an actress) she insists on making her character complex.
 Whereas Dodge can barely emerge from his shell, no matter what the situation - Knightley is always ALIVE. Alive.

Dodge sees people in simple terms - as objects - black and white, good or bad. "You are my favorite thing" he says at one point, as he comes to appreciate Penny.

But Penny is always complicated. Her mind operates on many levels at once. She is, as one former boyfriend points out, a survivor on the inside, but on the outside she seems very fragile. Like a little kid.

You have to see this movie to see what's beautiful about it. It's not like any other I have ever seen. The characters, the script, the subtlety, the humor. It was actually brilliant.

The movie made me think about the obvious things. Who matters to me, what I want to be spending my time on, priorities.

But it also set me thinking about some issues that are more subtle. These are things to be used not just as a communicator but as a person, too.

Basically what makes a communication satisfying is when two people connect - as thinking subject to thinking subject.

When it's not satisfying - what creates loneliness - is when the connection is superficial.

My kids can always tell when I am paying attention. They are satisfied with a short conversation that has real meaning.

But when I'm on the iPhone and I go "mm-hmm," they always catch me. They go, "Mom, get off your device and pay attention!"

If I walk away with anything from this movie it is to try and be more mindful of what people say. To listen more closely. Not to be distracted and thinking about "to-dos." Not tapping away on the smartphone. Not waiting for my turn to talk. Just listen.

It's a hard thing to do but I think the effort will be worth it.

P.S. By the way I'm trying out Disqus on my site for comments, let me know what you think. Another effort to move forward on the communication front...listening.