I’m cheating a bit this week. The premise of this column was for me to write about/recommend a film that I had seen in the past week that I had never seen before. Instead, this week I’m going to pick a film that was a re-watch. That isn’t to say that I haven’t seen any wonderful films in the past seven days. I’ve watched a great oldie Heathers (1988), an odd oldie, Soapdish (1991), a wonderful documentary , Man on Wire (2008), two great films from this year that should both be considered for Oscar contention Anna Karenina (2012) and Skyfall (2012), I’ve even seen a film fit for the season Home for the Holidays (1995). Yet I couldn’t write about the 2012 films, and the others didn’t inspire too much feeling, not in the way that Away We Go (2009) did upon re-watch.
We go to the movies for the grandeur, the absurd and the glamorous. We sit in the crowded theater, amongst like-minded individuals, and wait for the lights to dim and the voices to hush as we’re transported into different time periods, worlds and universes. We go to see something magical. But often time cinema can produce something so wildly fantastic, that it doesn’t fully register at first how real it was. Sometimes cinema and the minds behind it create magic without explosions, CGI, or yes, even wands.
Okay, but what’s it about?
Away We Go employs the use of minimalism. The story is touching, sickeningly so. We watch two young people, with a baby on the way, as they navigate away from their basic comfort; away from a house they’ve always known, from the parents who have always been there, from the routine they had built themselves. They’re two people ferociously in love. They’re two individuals who are just trying to find a home. They have found a sense of it within each other, compatibility. Now they’re seeking a stable and structural house where within they can grow and love some more. The place that will thus begin the newest chapter in their lives.
Why should you watch it?
Independent films are often toeing the line of what’s off beat and what’s annoyingly pretentious and on the verge of that fad called “mumblecore”. Luckily this one stays on the safe side. Writers Dave Eggers and Vendela Vidca are responsible for much of that. While they keep Burt (played by the infectious John Krasinski) a little quirky, a little odd, we never doubt the fact that he’s a fully capable adult. Maya Rudolph’s beautiful and moving Verona is often the straight character, the down to earth one, yet she is so utterly believable that her character is never the “boring” one. Rudolph is absolutely captivating in the role.
It’s bizarre to think that the man who is capable for the newest James Bond film Skyfall is also the eye behind this project. Sam Mendes shoots every scene with a knack of precision. He narrows in the simplicity and vulnerability of two ordinary people trying to figure what their lives will entail. While many heralded him for his work in American Beauty, it’s Away We Go that is his silent masterpiece that showcases talent and wisdom in the subject with mere subtlety.
There are two scenes that will stick in the mind of any viewer.
The first is on the trampoline where Burt and Verona deliver each other’s vows. They will not marry but in no way does that diminish their love. They promise each other compassion, understanding, and the protection of their daughter. It’s a heartwarming scene that conveys more chemistry and absolute heart than that of the average romance. This is a picture of real people who are doing all they can.
The second is when they walk into their new house. Their home. The realization hits us just as it hits them. As Alexi Murdoch’s song “Wait” plays as they walk onto their deck and take in their surroundings, we have found a place of home and comfort and serenity along with them. This is it. Mendes directs this scene with such stillness, and such vulnerability, that it leaves a longing in the viewer. We long for what the couple has. We long for the adventure they’re partaking in despite the absence of wizards and goblins and princes and dragons. We want the adventure that only everyday life can bring.
And not many films allow me to wish for anything other than the absurd. Yet this film has me dreaming of calm, beauty and hope.
Watch it. Understand why it’s a favorite.