Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Review

What would you do if you knew the end of the world was nigh?

For Dodge’s wife, who discovers this literally earth shattering news while sitting with her husband in their average family car, it’s do a runner.

And never come back.

It’s funny how impending death brings clarity to a person’s mind.

This doesn’t seem to have the same effect on Dodge though, who carries on living his so called life as an insurance salesman.

After all, there’s been a real surge in armageddon level life insurance lately, and somebody’s got to take those calls.

Dodge’s neighbour slash stranger for the last three years, Penny, also experiences a moment of clarity now she’s faced with her impending doom; namely her less than complete relationship with her flaky musician boyfriend.

Having kicked this creative hustler out of her flat, Penny ends up crying on the fire escape next to Dodge’s apartment so she can avoid having pity sex with her ex.

Only a girl could take pity on someone and turn it into a reason for sex.

And lucky for men that they do.

Being the good samaritan that he is, Dodge invites Penny in from the cold and on the proviso that she doesn’t steal anything, and he doesn’t rape her.

That last part was Penny’s caveat.

With their boundaries set, they fall asleep watching tv together.

When they wake, Penny goes back to her flat and hands over some mail of Dodge’s she’s been hoarding for years, including a love letter from his high school sweetheart and one true beau.

Seems like this end of the world lark really sharpens a person’s mind as to what’s real and what’s not.
With their end of days drawing close, Dodge and Penny set off on a road trip through riots, hired hit-men and lay by diner orgy’s as civilisation crumbles around them, to see if he can reconnect with the girl that got away.

But when you’re Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, maybe your past isn’t such a great place to visit.

Being a big fan of Seattle grunge outfit Soundgarden, the title of writer and director’s Lorene Scafaria’s debut feature immediately brought to mind a solo song of the same name penned by their magnetic frontman Chris Cornell.

I don’t know if this was the inspiration for Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, but it sure does conjure one hell of an idea for a story.

There are plenty of great one liners and twisted ideas here that made me laugh out loud, none more so than the weekly cleaner who won’t take Dodge’s repeated hints that maybe she might have better things to do with her time.

But as the film progresses, straying closer and closer to far more conventional territory, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Scafaria only really scratched the surface of this darkly rich comic material.

Hollywood funny man Steve Carell does his usual everyman shtick as Dodge, a man who’s lived within himself most of his life.

And even though the end of the world is nigh, this still doesn’t really seem to shake him from his slumber.

Keira Knightley plays Penny, a typically kooky and free spirited type that all indie films seem to favour for their leading lady roles.

Though Knightley’s charming in her pouting, gorgeous boy kind of way, she never really convinces as Penny either, which probably says more about the writing than her acting.

In fact, both leading roles feel a little hollow. They just lack those little details which make you believe in them as real people, rather than characters who have been created for our entertainment.

Which makes it hard to root for them one way or the other by the film’s climax.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World is by no means a bad watch; in fact I rather enjoyed it.

I just feel like it had the potential to be so much more than how things turned out.

Which is funny, as that’s pretty much the moral of Scafaria’s tale.

Jonathan Campbell

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July 2012
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