Steve Carell and Keira Knightley help to ground the sometimes flighty Seeking a Friend for the End of the World by convincingly imagining how someone would act in the face of impending apocalypse.
Last year, moviegoers watched as two planet-sized objects hurtled towards the Earth. One meant the end of the world as we know it; the other, just the end of the world. In Mike Cahill's Another Earth, a carbon copy of our planet approached from points unknown and ended up taking up orbit in the sky, as those on our world discovered that the twin Earth had alternate versions of themselves. Lars Von Trier's extended metaphor on the nature of depression, Melancholia, had a more apocalyptic finality: that film's eponymous globe didn't put on the brakes as it neared, slamming squarely into Earth like a cue ball on the break.
These were films with massive potential cosmic cataclysms, but they weren't really about the cataclysms themselves. Armageddon: Now there's a movie where a cigar is just a cigar, where the huge asteroid on an intercept course with the planet is nothing more and nothing less than what's advertised. But those two films last year used the uncertainty and impending doom of their heavenly bodies as a catalyst for examining what goes on inside much tinier globes: our own heads. That's also the case for the directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.