As an asteroid heads straight for Earth which will kill everyone on the planet, a man (Steve Carell) sets out on a road trip to find the long-lost love of his life. Along for the journey is his neighbour (Keira Knightley) whom he promised to get back to her family before the countdown ends.
The premise for the film may be innately depressing, starting out playing on the inevitability of what’s to come and how people therefore react, but it’s one which finds a real sense of optimism in spite of everything. This isn’t so much a depressing film about the end of the world but rather one about reflecting on the good times and, as the title suggests, finding someone special to spend the remaining days with. There’s something admirable about that lack of cynicism today.
It’s rather all over the place with its tones, starting out as a comedy with quirky characters (many-a-famous comedic face pops up) and clever gags about the state of society weeks before the end of the world – one joke about being able to hire a hit man to kill you instead of just waiting to die is particularly funny – before dispensing with that for the most part in favour of emotional impact. But somehow writer/director Lorene Scafaria (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) sort of gets away with that approach mainly because there’s a vain of goodwill and sincerity running throughout it.
The movie benefits tremendously from the two amiable leads who have surprisingly solid chemistry together. Although neither of them stretches massively outside of their respective comfort zones they nevertheless make a very charming, watchable and strangely believable duo. Many of the film’s pleasures can be found in the conversational interaction between the two as they discuss, for example, what they want to do with the rest of their lives (a clever play on that most common of life questions). On paper these two actors are mismatched but oddly it works very well.
The positive side of the coin to Melancholia’s cold hard reality of impending doom, Seeking A Friend for the End of the World is a sweet, witty and heartfelt little movie with bundles of likeability. Though it’s a bit uneven with its tones and it does dip a little in the middle as it gets into more generic road movie territory it nonetheless survives on the strength of its charm, two leads and, ultimately, by being the most optimistic and uplifting film about the end of the world you’re likely to find for a long time.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is released in UK cinemas on July 13th.