Away We Go to the cinema

Posted by Lou. The time is 7.15pm here in London, UK.

First up I'll explain that Away We Go is co-written by Our Dave and his wife. "Our Dave" is of course Dave Eggers, he of the fantabulous novels A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and What is the What. (If you haven't read them, do so now. NOW. Cuz he has a new one out about a guy in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath that promises to be as good if not better.) He is also an all-round upstanding guy, following on from raising his younger brother after the premature death of his parents to spending his adulthood using his talents and status to promote educational programmes and focus on world-improving subjects. Okay, I'm glad we got that out of the way.

Away We Go is, in a very first-screenplay kind of way, like a series of vignettes as Verona and Burt, expecting their first child and worried that they might be "fuck-ups", travel around North America trying to figure out where to plant their roots and call home for the upcoming stage of their life. On the way they of course interact with a brilliant series of supporting characters - at times funny, at times shocking, at times very moving.

For a first feature it is well written and has a definite added depth from the fact that it is written by a couple with a young family of their own - there is real emotion and care that lets you know they care about their subject matter, and it is a film that truly manages to be a two-hander between a man and a woman where they are a real equal team with neither perspective or role dominating. (Possibly ironically, with it seeming so personal, the part that rang least true for me was the part most overtly ripped from real-life - where Verona speaks to her sister of losing both her parents in her early-20s.) This is also a potential downfall, as it does perhaps start to err into being too caring... if you know what I mean? Like you'd go to dinner with Dave and his Wife and end up telling them all your emotional problems and they'd make you feel better with their perfect empathy and undestanding... and you'd possibly not like them for it because you'd somehow end up feeling like a bad person in contrast to their perfect likeability and niceness?

Anyhoo... the stand-out feature of this film is one scene in particular that manages to elicit the kind of emotional reaction that most filmmakers dream of, combining script, directing and acting to maximum effect. I predict two Best Supporting Actor nominations arising from it (one with an exciting Kiwi connection, and one for my new fave actor currently also starring in Julie and Julia). Speaking of the direction, I had sort of forgotten who the director was and kind of assumed that it being a first-script it would be a new-ish director, and I was thus extremely impressed by the unassuming but distinctive direction... well, I then wasn't surprised when the credits came up to be reminded it was a certain Mr Mendes...

In summary, this isn't the best film you'll ever see. It's not going to rock the world. It might irritate you. But for a lot of people it's going to be a direct hit to the ol' heart and create a real sense of empathy and understanding about how you feel about things, ya'know?

2 thoughts on “Away We Go to the cinema”

  1. This sounds like a good DVD night movie, rather than a rush out to the cinema now type film, yes?? Am looking forward to it!

    Ps: EMOTIONAL!! haha

  2. Yep.

    Overnight I've realised what my weird comment about having dinner with them was stemming from - I feel like they wrote what would typically be a movie about how we're all kooky and weird and screw-up but try hard and get by, but they've written it from a place of personal perfection rather than from truly being able to empathise with that state-of-being, if you know what I mean? Like having a perfect older sibling who was really cool in school come back from their amazing college summer break at some amazingly brilliant friend's parents' gorgeous beachfront mansion, and empathise with you over how weird and unpopular you are.

    I just read a NY Times review that took it much worse than that and thought it smug and holier-than-thou. I didn't quite get there.