Home > Movies, Reviews > In Search Of Home

In Search Of Home

awaywego_posterHaving already won Oscars and hearts with Revolutionary Road and his directorial debut American Beauty, Sam Mendes returns to the world of couples and relationships for Away We Go, being flown into cinemas by stork this weekend. Yes, this is a film about pregnancy, babies and families, but before you start worrying that things might get too mushy, you can relax.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph star as Burt and Verona, a couple who have been together since college and now, in their early 30s, are expecting their first child. When Burt’s parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) announce that they are moving to Belgium before the baby is born, Burt and Verona come to a realisation: there is nothing tying them to their Colorado home once Burt’s parents are gone, so they decide to move. Thus begins a cross-country journey as Burt and Verona search for a place to call home, assessing whether they really want to live with Verona’s former boss (Allison Janney) in Phoenix, or her sister (Carmen Ejogo) in Tucson. But the trip takes on a much more introspective tone when Burt and Verona start to wonder what kind of parents they will be their unborn child after they meet Burt’s cousin LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal) with her free-spirited ideals, college pals Tom and Munch with their own adopted family and a final visit to Burt’s brother, whose own family situation has undergone a sudden change.

awaywego_image008With such an expansive cast, the film has an unusual structure, each visit being its own chapter or vignette with Krasinski and Rudolph providing the only constants: although both are better known as TV actors, they both charm their ways onto the big screen with little effort. There are elements of Burt and Verona’s life that seem unusual, and may even distance themselves from some audiences: both work from home, seemingly having the money and freedom to ditch their lives to go on tour, and Burt in particular has an annoying habit of quoting tidbits of information he’s picked up in books. But ultimately, both are likeable characters, the grown-up Generation Y who have just come to the realisation that they’re not sure what they’re doing with their lives, and perhaps much closer to the Everyman and Everywoman than some detractors would care to admit.

That said, there’s a sense of stillness¬†to some parts of the film that never quite goes away: Mendes includes a few too many scenes of Burt and Verona standing (or sitting) still while the world moves around them (shots that make sense in context, but that go on for a bit too long) and Krasinski, better known to many audiences as Jim from The Office (the American version) is plays pretty much the same character here, albeit a little older and wiser. It doesn’t take away from Burt as a character, and in many ways Krasinski is the perfect actor for the role, but some more range would not have gone amiss.

awaywego_image003It’s a statement that we could apply to the direction and overall feel of the film as well: Mendes has taken a step back from the Oscar-winning/nominated actors and crafted something with a much more independent feel, a beautiful and touching film that nonetheless feels like it could be a director’s first offering. The inclusion of some characters and even segments make sense to the story, but feel throwaway at some points: Allison Janney’s performance as Lily is immensely entertaining, but its inclusion feels forced when compared with the family focus of the rest of the film, which only really finds its footing when Burt and Verona visit LN and the film embraces the fact that it is a bittersweet comedy rather than just a quirky dramatic movie.

Once it takes that time to find its feet and grow comfortable with its status, Away We Go is, like its main characters, smart, witty, laugh-out-loud hilarious and touching, all at the same time. With pregnancy and childbirth at the core of the film, it’s surprising that it manages to keep its head, not focussing too much on the idea of kids and distancing itself from its audience who might not be all that interested. Instead, what we have is a more mature Knocked Up, a film about likeable people trying to keep up with their own lives, and a film that might just prove to be the sweetest comedy about real life this year.

Zombie Rating: B

Away We Go opens in cinemas this Friday, 18th September.

  1. Hedgie
    September 21, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    Well I adore the cast so this could be a great film – especially with Mendes at the helm.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: