“I don’t want to fall asleep. Okay? Don’t let me fall asleep. Promise,” said Penny to Dodge.
What’s the worst part of apocalypse? To foreknowledge it, that’s, undoubtedly, the worst part of the end of everything. To know that there’s nothing we can do to survive or to protect those we love—that devastated feeling is the worst of all. Surprisingly, Lorene Scafaria’s directorial debut, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World, attempts to depict that worst part, not as a disaster movie like Armageddon nor 2012, but in the light of depressed rom-com.
In this movie, a giant asteroid is heading to Earth and is about to collide with it in 2 weeks, and to make it worse, an “Armageddon wannabe” mission to destroy that asteroid is fruitless. Not like in other movies, people of Earth is really unprepared for this catastrophe. People start freaking out: some of them even hire assassin to kill themselves, virgins sell out their virginity so they won’t die virgin, some gets involved in looting, some goes to mass baptism.
But, it’s different for a life insurance salesman, Dodge (Steve Carell), he finds out that, dealing with the apocalypse, his job is nonsense; even worse, his wife dumps him to spend the rest of her life with the man she really loves. Depressed and broken-hearted, Dodge meets Penny (Keira Knightley), a girl who lives in the next building, and immediately establishes good rapport with her. Penny talks about going on a roadtrip to meet the ones they really love before the end—Penny goes to her parents, while Dodge to his old love.
After a whole first act becomes an aspiring satire to the melancholic society and how unprepared human being for such “big thing”, the movie proceeds to its most interesting part—the roadtrip. It’s a typical cliche, indeed, that a movie with roadtrip symbolizes a journey to self-transformation or interpersonal relationship; and Seeking A Friend picks the latter. During this roadtrip, everything gets very clear; how people attempts to accepts the end when the time comes approaching so quick. Dodge and Penny meet people with different acceptances to the apocalypse, but, who they really meet is actually themselves—each one of them. And… that’s the quintessence of the titular mission, seeking a real someone to face the worst, and it’s bittersweet.
Steve Carell, in such a rare lead performance, shows a very woeful and desperate person not knowing what to do and not having a strong grip. The presence of Knightley’s Penny is a solace for his broken soul; although sometimes she causes resentment. How the lead characters finally opens up to each other, embraces and accepts each other as well as the apocalypse is described as a funny but tough struggle in a big dilemma. You don’t wanna die alone but you can’t bear to see the one you love most die, right?
Even though Seeking A Friend “fails” to show a grand finale to make this sweet acceptance meaningful, it has one of the most gripping last seconds—which being so depressing but sweet at the same time. Seeking A Friend might have flaws in its plot, but, I understand it—it’s difficult, indeed, to decide to do something if the end is just a nail away. That’s why I must say this film is quite realistic in portraying how an instant relationship must last in the end of the day. It’s bittersweet.
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Drama, Romance, Comedy Written & Directed by: Lorene Scafaria Starred by: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley Running Time: 101 mins Rated R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence