Another entry in the Random Films I Liked section: Sam Mendes' Away We Go. I've liked Mendes' work, especially the brilliant and under-rated Road To Perdition, and watched this movie a couple days after seeing Mendis' claustrophobic and overly grim Revolutionary Road. It was like nothing Mendis has directed and was just the right movie for an afternoon's entertainment. Do not go into this movie expecting a Mendes masterpiece, because it is not. Nobody dies and nobody is out there to wow you with their acting chops. This is one Mendes film which is not going to attract votes at award ceremonies, and in a refreshing way that makes Away We Go easy to watch.
Simple premise: thirty-something American couple, a white male and mixed-race pregnant woman, set out to find their uniquely own place to raise their first child. Could be a recipe for disaster, but it's not because of Mendes' handling of the subject and the acting of the leads. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it heavy? No.
It's essentially a road movie with very good acting - The Office's John Krasinski keeps getting better while for Maya Rudolph, see of SNL fame, this was a breakthrough role - and exudes a warmth that not a lot of films do not these days. The script follows the road movie them by carrying the viewer from city to city, character to zany character, problem to problem, and is not pretentious, which it so easily could have been.
There's nothing gimmicky about the film, which you expect from Mendes. It seemed like a massive release for a man of his caliber, especially after Revolutionary Road and Jarhead, and it was a cohesive movie. The humor is intelligent and quirky, the acting very good.
I did, however, feel that the characters who cropped up needed to be fished out more, for at times you got attracted to them through their flaws only to see them fade away into the background, leaving you wondering if they weren't just cardboard cut-outs. A few even seemed familiar, not on a personal level, but in that I couldn't but feel I'd seen such people in movies before. In way they are all exaggerated stereotypes of American families, but Krasinski, Rudolph, the awesome soundtrack, composed by Alexi Murdoch, the locales captured exceptionally by Ellen Kuras, and the tone of them film more than make up for that flaw.