Tag Archives: Sam Mendes

EIFF: Away We Go

When you first see the trailer for Sam Mendes’ Away We Go you wonder if its going to be another Juno: trying so hard to be cute and funny that all you want to do is start kicking it around like a retarded puppy.

Even the poster makes you think of Juno

Even the poster makes you think of Juno

This sentiment is misplaced. What Mendes has done is encapsulate an earnest relationship and its struggle to define itself with a baby on the way.

We’re introduced to Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) when they first find out they’ll be having a baby. Six months later, the couple begins a location scouting adventure for HOME after Burt’s parents (the couple’s sole connection to their humble abode) decide to move to Antwerp a month before the child is to be born.

Written by Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida, the film is true to its name, whisking us along from locale to locale in chapter format. At each location Burt and Verona meet up with friends or acquaintances who, as representatives of their city, repel or attract the couple.

Less of a “travelogue” and more of a sampling of various parenting styles (from dismissive apathy to New Age s’mothering), Burt and Verona learn what they don’t want to do (be in the same bed with their child when they have sex) and the type of parents they’d like to be (let their kids be who they want to be).

The writing is superb, giving the cast room to bring on the funny. John Krasinski plays Burt well, spinning between demure and heroic without stealing the show, and who knew Maya Rudolph could bring so much with so little? As the oldest sister who carries both child and questions of identity (“Are we fuck ups?” she asks Burt), Rudolph keeps the film’s gravitas.

Away We Go, in comparison to Mendes’ previous work, trades in the visual pomp for natural compositions that work specifically for the type of intimacy Mendes’ is reaching for. After Revolutionary Road, in which a couple tear each other a part by looking inward, Away We Go presents another answer to the equation of coupledom, as Burt and Verona, together, face outward.

This “togetherness” dynamic keeps the film from being casually tossed into the “Romantic Comedy” bin. The usual rom-com format is boy and girl are together, break up, boy fights for girl, wins her over, end. Burt and Verona are never led down that path of conflict (though Mendes’ track record does give you worry for the couple). Throughout most of the film Burt and Verona are always within the same shot, rarely separated by closeups, enhancing their united front.

The film is simple, but poignant, and will hit you where it counts. As my friend Ben Creech once highlighted, what really makes a film is the audience’s connection to the piece. I personally found myself presented on celluloid when Burt idly speculates, “But what if I’m walking by a construction site and I get hit on my frontal lobe and then I’m a horrible person?” When speculating upon the future our decisions may deliver, everyone has the “what if’s?”. The film’s response, “We’ll take it as it comes, together,” rounds out a mature, nuanced comedy about relationships and what it’s really going to take to stick it out. Evidently, it will take a lot of syrup.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Welcome everyone to my film diary. While I am waiting to start school here in Edinburgh, I’m working on my film knowledge and jotting down ideas. I will dedicate this journal to the discussion of cinema (and even some literature), but right now the big thing is the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The fest is one of the largest in the U.K. and will be showcasing Sam Mendes’ Away We Go, the sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell, Moon, and talks with directors Sam Mendes, Darren Aronofsky, and King of the B’s himself, Roger Corman. Unfortunately I was unable to get tickets in time for Mendes and Aronofsky. However, I feel my uncanny ability to meet bands like Everclear, Queens of the Stone Age, Papa Roach through cunning and persistence will be helpful in getting into the talks in some way.

Here is a list of the events I’ve bought tickets for (and in brackets the events I’ll try to get into):

June 17
Away We Go

June 18
[Sam Mendes: In Person]

June 19
The Hurt Locker (from the director of Point Break)

June 20
Roger Corman’s The Intruder, starring William Shatner. (This was the best trailer I could find for the film, but it’s still good for some background on the film and Corman)

Moon (sci-fi film with Kevin Spacey and Sam Rockwell)

June 22
[Darren Aronofsky: In Person]

June 23
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

June 24
Roger Corman: In Person

June 25
Dario Argento’s Giallo

June 26
Pontypool (radio dj gets reports of strange things going on outside)

The festival begins tonight with Away We Go and I’ll post my thoughts tomorrow. If there are any films you see on the site that you would recommend, please comment.