Sunday, January 8, 2012

Away We Go

 What a better way to start yet another year with an inspiring movie. I had much expectations about Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), released in 2009.
They say “journey is the reward”, and what a journey! Vera and Burt are very much in love and expecting their first child. An eccentric couple, they embark on a journey to find the place where they want to raise their child, and visit different friends and family across the country. From one disaster to another, from one gag to the other, they keep moving.
Key message: the rules and expectations of society do not drive to happiness and balance. Tthe compatibility between people and their tolerance to matter more, and make the relationships they form richer, as they appreciate people for themselves and not for the function or money.
MayaRudolph (Vera) and John Krasinski (Bert) have great chemistry and shine. Vera doesn’t want to marry Bert, in spite of being repeatedly asked, and it kind of makes sense: someone once said to me: “it’s more beautiful to stay if you don’t have to”. And that’s exactly what happens. Their conversation (below) is touching and means more than empty marriage vows. This scene was very well constructed, and remains one of my favourite moments in the film.
Burt: Do you promise to let our daughter be fat or skinny or any weight at all? Because we want her to be happy, no matter what. Being obsessed with weight is just too cliché for our daughter.
Verona: Yes, I do. Do you promise, when she talks, you'll listen? Like, really listen, especially when she's scared? And that her fights will be your fights?
Burt: I do. And do you promise that if I die some embarrassing and boring death that you're gonna tell our daughter that her father was killed by Russian soldiers in this intense hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to save the lives of 850 Chechnyan orphans?
Verona : I do. Chechnyan orphans. I do. I do.
The rest of the cast makes brief appearances. In spite of only appearing briefly, Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Bridges) are just right, outrageous, brilliant. The character played by Alison Janney is scandalous and fun, although maybe a tad over the top. I still can’t make up my mind about the character played by Maggie Gyllenhall (LN), over-stereotyped, completely over the top, but fun nevertheless, if you take it with a pinch of salt.
LN: [to Roderick] They bought us a stroller.
Burt: What's wrong with a stroller?
LN: I LOVE my babies. Why would I want to PUSH them away from me?
I was not too sympathetic about the Montreal couple, their story was more tragic than fun, not developed enough, and kind of killed the mood for a while.
Interesting fact: this was a green movie, ie (well, officially at least!) no carbon footprint left by cast and crew.
One critic though is that I found the pace of the film was a bit slow, but I’d say it’s because of the director: after all, Revolutionary Road too was extraordinarily slow, to the point of being boring, and as I remember event American Beauty had its boring moments. Cannot be perfect all the time!
All in all, a worthy film, a subtle comedy. A classic, a must? Maybe not, but definitely something to enjoy.

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