Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2009
Directed by
Sam Mendes
98 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

Away We Go

Synopsis: Long-time unmarried couple Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are in their thirties and discover they are having a baby. They hope that Burt’s parents, Jerry and Gloria (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara), will be around to help, but when the older couple announce they are going to live in Europe, Burt and Verona realise they no longer have a reason to live in Colorado. So they start travelling all over America to assess where is the best spot to make a home. They visit old friends and a smattering of relatives, observe a variety of parenting styles, and discover home has another meaning than just a place to live.

Academy Award winner Mendes has taken on a smaller and more intimate film, using lesser-known actors and involving a very personal story of discovery and growth. The odd thing about the characters of Burt and Verona is that in some ways they are so naïve with their sort-of retro-hippy lifestyle. Burt proposes constantly to Verona who refuses to marry (she can’t see the point), and yet the love generated between them is palpable and feels real. Burt is such a laid back, genuinely nice fellow (the sort seldom seen in life or on film) and Verona is the perfect partner for him – sweet, unaffected, and also quite a rare screen presence.

By contrast the people they meet on their travels are mostly weird or obnoxious in some way or another. Their first stop finds them with Lily (Allison Janney), Verona’s old boss – an alcoholic, loudmouthed, abrasive (but hilariously so) woman. So it’s off to Tucson to met Verona’s sister Grace (Carmen Ejogo), with whom Verona reminisces about their childhood and the old house which the sister’s now rent out. Then in Madison they reconnect with Ellen (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who now calls herself LN, breastfeeds her kid of four, and espouses parenting theories to make any sane person shudder. She and her screwball husband, Roderick (Josh Hamilton), certainly make for one of the funniest episodes in the film. Then it’s off to old friends Tom and Munch in Montreal, where the entire family acts out life as if they are in a musical even if there are sadder, more serious stories behind this family’s adoption of four kids. Finally the pair visit Burt’s brother, Courtney (Paul Schneider), whose wife has just left him. Do any of these scenarios offer a model for the expectant couple to set up a home?

While you can see that the basic premise of this story is modest, it does offer an opportunity to ask questions about the meaning of home and family and lets us reflect in a gentle and amused way on people’s differing approaches to the most important yet sometimes most aggravating of human experiences – relating to others and living in a family.

Much of the film’s strength comes from the excellent chemistry between Krasinski and Rudolph, and also from the strong script (co-written by Vendela Vida and Dave Eggers, who co-wrote Where The Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze) which ranges between dryly witty, outright funny, and moments which are very tender and moving. Watch especially for the scene in which the couple make some amazing promises to each other, way better than the usual wedding vows. All in all, Away We Go is fresh and sweet. Mendes shows his versatility and strength in getting the best out of his cast whilst a bonus is the delightful and poignant soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch, a folk-pop style of writer whose lyrics really add to the film.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst