A quirky little film about self discovery is not what you’d expect from Hollywood super-director, Sam Mendes. After his stern and serious look at suburban marriage with American Beauty, followed by the similarly themed Revolutionary Road, perhaps he wanted to show that his heart isn’t made of stone when he swiftly made a film that is the complete opposite. Away We Go is a heart warming road trip film in which love conquers all and everything ends with a big happy smile.
The story follows charmingly ignorant Burt (John Krasinski) and heavily pregnant Verona (Maya Rudolph) as they head off from their depressing trailer home, flying from city to city in search of the perfect place to raise their child. These films live and die by the chemistry of their leads and rather than hitting you over the head with their undying love for each other this relationship is realistically understated.
Along the way they meet couples dealing with their own child-raising difficulties, allowing for a host of cameos from a New Age mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who doesn’t believe in prams (“Why would I want to push my baby away?”) to a ridiculously well performed monologue from an emotionally scarred Chris Messina. These interactions are a mixture of hilarious and tragic and give the film the emotional depth it needs to hold interest.
Having said this, at times Away We Go is worryingly close to jumping onto the Juno bandwagon of ‘Indie mainstream’: a genre of post-modern, self-consciously cool and artificially low-budget style big-budget films. It does fall into some of the irritating Indie pitfalls; with its title hand-drawn as if a struggling artist rushed it before he went out for his next smoke, the lead characters are more than a little self obsessed and the soundtrack consists only of an “unknown artist” and his guitar, it very almost crosses the line from charming to quirky. Thankfully, it never quite makes that tragic step and manages to be thought-provoking rather than irritating.
In a nutshell: A mature and genuinely funny look at the difficulties of raising a child, while sounding rather dull is anything but.
Released 18th Septmeber
Cast John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director Sam Mendes