Title: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley and Connie Britton (TV’s ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Friday Night Lights’)
With the conspiracy theory that the world is going to end at the end of this year, to coincide with the ending of the Mayan calendar, many people have thought about what they would do if they knew they only had weeks or months left to live. The new romantic dramedy ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ looks past the violence that has often surrounded the idea of the Apocalypse in many horror films to show how people will genuinely act in the event science couldn’t save Earth and its life forms. The main characters in the film choose not to engage in the reckless behavior their friends are to instead find comfort with each other, and accept how they’re lives have turned out.
‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ follows soft-spoken insurance salesman Dodge Peterson (played by Steve Carell), whose marriage quickly disintegrates when the news that the world will end in an estimated 21 days leads his wife to leave him. Realizing that he was never truly happy in his marriage, and wanting to make the most of the rest of his life before a 70-mile-wide asteroid hits Earth, Dodge decides to track down his high school sweetheart, Olivia. Dodge thinks Olivia is the love of his life, which leads his hopeless romantic neighbor, Penny Lockhart (portrayed by Keira Knightley), to encourage him to search for her.
Dodge and Penny leave their respective lives as they head out on the road to reconnect with the people in their past. While traveling together, seeking their own personal journeys in an effort to contend with their looming deaths, the two realize how much they truly like each other. Both Dodge and Penny come to accept that their friendship may be all they need.
‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’s screenwriter, Lorene Scafaria, who also made her feature film directorial debut with the romantic dramedy, perfectly captured the essence of people needing to find comfort in each other during dire circumstances with Dodge and Penny. Unlike many films dealing with the pending Apocalypse, which are often told in the horror genre with the visual horrors of the end of days, ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ rightfully took a different perspective by focusing on people’s natural reactions. Dodge and Penny’s immediate response to the news is to make up for the wrongs in their lives, and search for people from who they’ve become distant from in order to save the relationships.
Once their characters truly begin spending time with each other, Carell and Knightley convincingly play Dodge and Penny as realizing the most important relationships aren’t the longest ones; the most meaningful are those with people with who you truly connect with now. While Dodge and Penny are at completely different stages in their lives, their natural bond with each other at times push aside the underlying theme of the end of the world. They truly find comfort with each other, as they’re dealing with the end of their relationships. What started off as a convenient companionship for both turned into a meaningful relationship.
Following the lead from last summer’s hit romantic dramedy ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love,’ Carell once again infused his introverted character with confidence, making Dodge the most intriguing character to watch. While shy and humble in the beginning of the film, viewers surely won’t pity him for his wife leaving him. His willingness to help Penny find a way home to England to be with her family during their last few weeks on Earth while he’s trying to reconnect with Olivia is heartwarming and enduring, and proves how respectable he is.
‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ is a refreshing, unique look into what happens to people’s emotions when they’re faced with their impending deaths. While the subject of the Apocalypse has primarily been saturated by the horror genre, the romantic dramedy stands out as it instead features genuine glimpses into people’s reactions to natural disaster. Dodge and Penny truly undergo an emotional transformation as they not only learn the true meaning of life, but also what it means to truly love someone, as they contend with their imminent deaths.
Written by: Karen Benardello