Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Dir: Lorene Scafaria
If I had to find a friend to spend the final fortnight of Earth’s existence with, Kiera Knightley wouldn’t be my first choice!
Yet, in this film that’s exactly who Dodge (Steve Carrell) ends up with, his somewhat emotionally unstable neighbour Penny (Knightley). A massive asteroid is on a collision course for Earth, space shuttle attempts to stop it have failed, and thus the film begins with the announcement on the radio that everyone is going to die. This prompts Dodge’s wife to leave the car, and his life. However he finds an unlikely friendship with neighbour Penny, who really wants to get back to her family in England, though all the commercial flights have stopped. So, the mis-matched pair brought together by strange circumstances flee their apartment block as it is engulfed in riots on a road trip with an abandoned dog called Sorry.
Unlike typical “disaster movies” this doesn’t focus too much on the ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ of the world ending, just popping in a few simple reminders of the approaching disaster, allowing for the story to focus on the characters and really get close to them and into their lives. It’s not so much about looking at the widespread effects, but rather aiming for a more personal view of an apocalypse.
For me personally, the key to it working is Steve Carrell. He’s the emotional heart of the film, and we follow him from the first second to the very last. I always find him to be very watchable and enjoy most things he’s in, and though I’m not much of a fan of Kiera Knightley, the two of them work surprisingly well together and I actually ended up not minding her much. There’s also a small role for Martin Sheen which I wasn’t expecting as I didn’t realise he was in the film, he’s typically on form and fits the part perfectly adding extra warmth that’s really needed in the part he’s in.
So, it’s the end of the world, but not how we usually know it in films. This ended up being a nicely different and warm view of how an apocalypse may send most people crazy, but bring others together.