Alli and I caught our second screening of the week tonight â€” Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the independent romantic comedy (of sorts): (500) Days of Summer.
It’s an interesting movie, a little bit different take on the traditional romantic comedy. It opens up with a very comical letter from the writer, but I won’t spoil that. I’ll just say: don’t be late.
Zooey Deschanel is becoming somewhat of an indie flick darling and she’s really the star of the movie; she is, after all, Summer. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt…well, he’s come a long way since playing the annoying little kid on 3rd Rock from the Sun. He’s really grown into a good actor.
The chemistry between her and Gordon-Levitt is really charming, even if it’s doomed from the start. Or is it? That’s kind of the great thing about the movie. You root for them all along, even if you aren’t sure why or if they’re even right for each other. Plus, the soundtrack is really good. I don’t want to say anything more about it…I want people to discover it for themselves.
Even though our food was seriously lacking, we absolutely adored the movie.
The screenplay was written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, a real-life couple who also have a child together. The story is about Burt (John Krasinski, aka Big Tuna/Jim from The Office) and Verona (Maya Rudolph from SNL), who are expecting a child together and are trying to find a home where they can settle down.
They begin traveling across the country to different places (Phoenix, Madison, Montreal, Miami) where they have friends and family to try out each place to see if it feels right. The very concept of the movie is indie in nature and will gain Away We Go comparisons to movies like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. The comparisons are valid â€”Â Away We Go contains the same quirky characters and sharp dialogue and disfunction that has become commonplace in indie films.
The thing that I loved about this movie was how real the characters seemed. Krasinski and Rudolph are so natural and their chemistry is terrific throughout â€”Â you can tell that they are really enjoying each other’s company. The supporting characters â€”Â and they are many: Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Alison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey and Paul Schneider â€” are all wonderfully cast and provide just the right amount of silliness to make you smile and push the movie forward. Maggie Gyllenhaal particularly shines as a hippie mother who doesn’t believe in strollers (among other things I won’t mention).
But the real stars are Krasinski and Rudolph, who bring such wonderful life to Burt and Verona and deliver Eggers and Vida’s lines with such earnestness that it will be difficult to ignore them when Oscar time rolls around.
All these terrific actors are directed by Sam Mendes, whose take on family up to this point in films has been…a little, um…jaded is perhaps the word I’m looking for. For the guy who directed both American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, Away We Go is a serious departure and could be considered flat-out uplifting. He gets fantastic performances out of all of his actors and the movie is accompanied by an absolutely perfect soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch. (For those who go to the movie and are looking to buy the soundtrack, just buy Murdoch’s Time Without Consequence…it’s the same thing.)
My favorite thing about this movie was that it shows that one person’s version of happy can be completely different than another’s. As Burt and Verona travel around the country looking for “their place”, they begin to realize that it can’t be defined by the lives of others. “Their place” is wherever they make their home as long as they are together. I am not ashamed to admit that I teared up during the scene on the trampoline. But they were tears of joy accompanied by a smile and squeeze on my arm from my wife and best friend who I’ve found “my place” with.
Away We Go may not be for everyone, but it was wonderful for me.