Away We Go (Mendes, 2009)

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Sam Mendes’ Away We Go attempts to capture the many moments of uncertainty leading up to parenthood by fluctuating quirky comedy and serious drama. These tonal shifts thankfully never stray into the extreme, instead relying on the subtlety of framing to reveal the small moments of character. And the film is brave enough to completely focus on the intimate journey of two people justifying their love outside the realm of type-cast family units.

But the underlining tension protagonists Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) feel with the responsibility of having a child becomes too simplistic, especially when juxtaposed with the four situational couples they visit throughout the film. These vary from nightmarish (Allison Janney and Maggie Gyllenhaal) to the damaged (Chris Messina), and none make the impact they should. Moments of pain can be found within each scene, but Mendes often undermines this progress with conventional action and dialogue.

Unlike Mendes’ genre efforts, Away We Go lacks a visual authority, floating by seamlessly into the ether of everyday life. Yet despite this casual structure, Mendes hammers his point home so bombastically with ironic music cues and character motifs that by the end Burt and Verona are stripped of their charm and vulnerability. Instead of standing alone strong and independent, they just seem lost, staring into the open hoping for more guidance.

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2 thoughts on “Away We Go (Mendes, 2009)

  1. I found the lead characters surprisingly convincing on their entire journey – which made the movie work for me. Rudolph especially seemed note-perfect, with Krasinski not far behind. But the over-the-top segment (not the acting per se, but what actors were given to say and do) with Gyllenhaal and Hamilton proved a bit too much for me.

  2. Yes, there were too many moments like that for me to recommend this film. The leads were fine enough, the for the first time, I hated Mendes direction. Too on the nose for me.

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