Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist screenwriter Lorene Scafaria moves into the director's chair with this surprisingly engaging romantic comedy with a twist: it's a boy-meets-girl love story set in the three weeks before an asteroid slams into Earth and ends life as we know it. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World thus plays like a deadpan afterthought to Armageddon if that film hadn't had a happy ending, or like a cheerier version of Deep Impact. The meet-cute of morose loser Dodge (Steve Carell still able to wring emotion from his typecasting) and ditzy neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley channeling all the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stereotypes) in a non-descript American metropolis is intercut with all sorts of disconnected urban social satire around the impending apocalypse. Said satire is faultlessly delivered by a series of comedian cameos (Rob Corddry or Patton Oswalt) in a cross-section of modern America designed to strip away the romance to its essence: what if all you have time for is to boil things down to boy-meets-girl?

     Ms. Scafaria's film never finds the proper balance between the sweet love story about people who finally meet their twin souls and the savage civilizational satire of a world on its last legs. But the matter-of-fact way in which she addresses it, as if Lars von Trier had gained a sense of humour before doing Melancholia or if Abel Ferrara had retooled his disappointing 4:44 Last Day on Earth for the indie-hipster set, along with the winning pairing and very unlikely chemistry of Ms. Knightley and Mr. Carell, make Seeking a Friend for the End of the World a particularly unusual entry into the romantic-comedy genre.

Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Derek Luke, Melanie Lynskey, William Petersen

Director/writer: Lorene Scafaria
Cinematography: Tim Orr (colour, processing by Technicolor, Deluxe prints, widescreen)
Music: Rob Simonsen, Jonathan Sadoff
Designer: Chris Spellman
Costumes: Kristin M. Burke
Editor: Zene Baker
Producers: Steve Golin, Joy Gorman Wettels, Steven Rales, Mark Roybal (Focus Features, Mandate Pictures, Indian Paintbrush Productions, Anonymous Content, Dodge Productions)
USA, 2011, 100 minutes

Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 1 (Lisbon), September 19th 2012


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