Monday, June 8, 2009

Hilariously Frightening

Sam Mendes' Away We Go is terrifying. It is also hilarious, heart-felt, touching, intelligent, and inspiring.

The story of a newly pregnant couple (John Krasinksi and Maya Rudolph) who travel the country meeting new friends to find the perfect place to start a family was written by Pulitzer Prize Finalist author Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida. The story, originally, came to me as non dramatic while at the same time incredibly tense. And, I suppose, that's what they wanted.

The dramatic structure isn't normal, there's no Act I, II, and III. There's the Instigating Event (the pregnancy) and the Dramatic Question (will they ever find a place to settle down?) but nothing "bad", so to speak, happens. The conflict isn't between Burt and Verona, the two, instead, function as a team in this film. They're conflict never reaches the brink of separation but instead generally revolves around break downs in armor, glimpses of fear, that get rebuilt and blinded beautifully by the other member of the team.

The conflict, instead, is battled on the fields of hopes and dreams. Each new city they go to is greeted with incredible optimism and promise and then gets batted down by those they visit. Every planned trip is foreseen as being incredible but ends up being a vision of what they never want to happen to them, their worst nightmares being lived out by old friends and acquaintances. It's not until an unplanned visit to Miami when Burt's brother's wife leaves him that the two start to find what they were looking for.

Overall this film will forever be held close to my heart. It will never win an Oscar, let alone get nominated for the ones it deserves. But it's unique, lively, and creative story telling is something that will not be surpassed for a very long, long time. Or, at least, until Eggers comes out with another film.

"You have to be better than you ever thought you could be."
--Away We Go

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