Seeking a Friend at the End of the World

July 2, 2012 1 Comment

“The final mission to save mankind has failed.”   So begins director Lorene Scarfaria’s contribution to the recently popular end of the world movie, begun in 2011 with Lars von Trier’s “Melacholia” and Abel Ferraris’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth.”  This film is a worthy contributor to the Armageddon trilogy, contrasting with the operatically opulent “Melancholia” (my favorite movie of 2012 BTW) and the dismally dark “4:44 Last Day on Earth.”  Scarfaria’s tone feels initially like “catastrophe-lite” and the casting of Steve Carrel as “Dodge,” the forlorn and doomed insurance salesman (not much market for this now, get it?), and Kiera Knightly as  sweet “Penny,” the young Brit trying to find her way home, teases us with the hope of  comedic rescue.  The film is not afraid to portray the facing of the end as a very personal experience, quiet and intimate.  Sure, there are riots in the streets, suicide, desperate drug parties and orgies and an infectious malaise that drains meaning from everyday life.  The tone shifts (for the most part successfully) from dark to lighter and back to dark as we are marched with Dodge and Penny to the final countdown.  So what, if anything, matters under such inevitable calamity?  What happens when we can no longer say “see you later”?  Does love matter?  Why?  How?  Are we revisiting the Cold War fatalism that produced such films as “On the Beach”?  Does it help us to work through such fears via movies or just desensitize us for the unyielding end?

The variety of answers to these questions may explain the  wide range of reactions to this film: “misguided sappiness” for  those who prefer their end with less quirk to “sweetly satisfying”  for  those who hope that the world will end, not with a bang, but with a hug.    A Must See Movie…..before it’s tooooooo late!    Jolyn Wagner

Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “Seeking a Friend at the End of the World”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    Suppose you know that your death is imminent, but the world won’t end with your end. But you won’t be able to say “see you later” to anyone. Is that any different from the case where the world is about to end (and you with it)? Second, suppose all those you care about are on a plane that is going to crash very soon, you will all die, and you know it. Is that any different from the case where the world is about to end (and you with it)? I’d say the world’s end is worse, period, but is it worse for you?

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