Away We Go [Film Review]

away-we-go-posterFilm: Away We Go
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Romance
Rating: R
Company: Big Beach

Sam Mendes hit it big in the film world with his Oscar winning American Beauty. Since then, Mendes has been a bit hit and miss with his titled. The Tom Hanks lead Road To Perdition did quite well, but Jarhead and Revolutionary Road didn’t quite find their audience. However, for his new picture, Away We Go, Mendes went back to a simpler style of film making and recruited semi-theatrically new, but nationally recognized John Kasinski [of The Office] and Maya Rudolf [of Saturday Night Live] to create what just might be the indie hit of the year.

The plot of away we go is like the portrayal of the thought process many expecting couples [most likely] go through. The film centers around Burt and Verona [Krasinski and Rudolf] as a couple in their 30’s who, now pregnant, set out in search of a place to start their family after finding out Burt’s parents [portrayed in wonderful guest appearances by Catherine O’hara and Jeff Daniels] are moving far away from them. The couple decide to visit Pheonix, Tucson, Madison [WI], Canada, and [unexpectedly] Miami in hopes of finding a location near family or friends in which to have their yet unnamed daughter.

The journey is quickly started [about 15min. into the film] and the mood of the film begins changing quite quickly from a couple confused and scared about having a baby, to a outright hilarious comedy and back again thanks to the cast of characters they interact with along the way. Jim Gaffigan offers a very negative outlook on life in Pheonix while Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a completely absurd modern day hippie who, along with her husband, share a bed with with their children, don’t use strollers, and force Bert and Verona to wear slippers to enter their home. The situations may seem a bit over the top at times, but it’s all done with plain lighting and angles to paint a very realistic world in which our leads are struggling to understand the next steps in life.

Not everything is happy however. Bert desires to marry Verona, but she doesn’t see the point and the couple struggles with this argument throughout. Also, there are tales of miscarriages, abandonment, adultery, and more openly discussed throughout. At times, it makes you want to cry, but that’s later balanced with something more light hearted.

As for carrying the picture, both Krasinski and Rudolf shine throughout. There are times when Krasinski will surely remind people of his popular character on The Office, but as a whole it’s a different side to see of him and the same goes for Rudolf. You feel the tension in their relationship, but at the same time know they care more for each other than anything else.

As the credits began to roll on the screening I attended, I was overcome with a swell of both happiness and hope. Mendes and crew have crafted an honest look at relationships and life that is both uplifting and thought provoking. There’s few cliches to be found and even less plot holes or unnecessary moments. These are the kind of characters you fall in love with and desire to meet in the real world.

I know it’s early, but I’ll go ahead and put my money on Away We Go being the sleeper hit of 2009.

James Shotwell
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