This week we’re taking a look at a couple of indies that were in limited release this summer.
First up: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a quirky love story starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley set during the apocalypse.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
“An enjoyably quirky, frequently funny and ultimately moving comedy-drama with a pair of terrific performances from Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.”
-Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
Seeking a Friend, the directorial debut from screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) tells the tale of two people trying to find meaning in the end of the world. Three weeks before an asteroid named Matilda destroys the planet, a lonely insurance salesman named Dodge (Carell) and his neighbor Penny (Knightley) embark on a journey to find his high school sweetheart. Half heartbreaking love story, half quirky road trip comedy, this is one of the more intelligent and charming comedies to come out in recent memory. Not only are Carell and Knightley fantastic as our two leads, but there’s also a bevy of great side characters that pop up throughout the film. Comedian T.J Miller and Community star Gillian Jacobs play a couple of forward-thinking waiters at the one remaining open restaurant, “Friendsy’s”. Rob Corddry and Patton Oswalt show up as Dodge’s friends trying to take advantage of the new social landscape the apocalypse provides. Martin Sheen, Connie Britton, Melanie Lynskey and Amy Schumer make surprising additions to the cast as well.
Seeking a Friend manages to maintain a unique mix of sci-fi and emotional beats that really pay off in the end. It may not be the most technically or scientifically ambitious film you’ll see this year but where it really shines is in it’s charm, quirk and intimate character moments.
“A movie that may be, in its own small, weird way, the most bizarrely bittersweet and oddly beautiful romance you’ve seen in quite awhile.”
-Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
Next is perhaps my favorite film of the year thus far, Safety Not Guaranteed. It tells the story of the following classified ad:
“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”
Safety Not Guaranteed
“It is an offbeat charmer that is fun and engaging from a storytelling standpoint, but one that also brings a surprisingly rich emotional payoff.”
-Mike Scott, Times-Picayune
Safety Not Guaranteed is a delightful little story starring Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as Darius, a journalism intern investigating a classified ad placed by Kenneth, an eccentric convenience store worker (Mark Duplass). Sounds pretty straightforward, but there’s a catch: Kenneth is seeking a partner to time travel with…and he may not be as crazy as he seems. What results is an unpredictable exploration of trust and what it takes to believe in something impossible. All the performances are great, especially Plaza, who has mastered the art of deadpan irony and she pulls it off here once again. Also making appearances are Jeff Garlin and Mary Lynn Rajskub, with Kristen Bell making a particularly meaningful cameo late in the story.
Possibly my favorite film of the year so far, Safety Not Guaranteed really excels in its relationships and character work that lead to an incredible and emotionally charged set piece in the final act. It’s a drama and a comedy blended with just a hint of science fiction and it does it all very well. If you’re getting tired of the all of the superheroes and blockbusters of the summer, this is the perfect film for you.
“The only thing that saddens me about this little gem of a movie is that it may not be seen by anyone.”
-Linda Cool, Quad City Times