REVIEW: Away We Go (Sam Mendes, 2009)

I could relate to Away We Go so much it's crazy. For the better part of the film I felt like Sam Mendes had done an interpretation of my life over the past year (especially during Maggie Gyllenhaal's scenes).

Similar to Mendes' recent Revolutionary Road, it takes a few scenes of stilted dialog to get going (the dinner with Catherine O'Hara and Jeff Daniels felt like the first table read) but quickly becomes Revolutionary Road's antithesis - a low-key yet uproarious situational comedy of sorts (until its more sentimental and mellow - but far from contrived - second half). Jim Gaffigan is particularly notable for his deadpan performance that had me in stitches.

One might compare aspects of Away We Go to the likes of Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. I might also if it weren't for my feeling like I was watching a more entertaining version of my life.

It is not a perfect film and it is not made for everyone, but boy is it ever made for me. Hopefully Maya Rudolph will gain notoriety for her performance, which is just as good if not better than her brief (and also impregnated) turn in the Prairie Home Companion film. John Krasinski plays, as one might expect, a differently motivated version of Jim from The Office, but it's a role he does so well and, as a male, I found him to be a great grounding point for the film even during its crazier moments. I'm sure his character's counterpart is the same for female audience members.

Overall, Away We Go is a sweet, honest and often hilarious slice of a couple's journey to find home and it's the first film since The Weather Man to leave me so pleasantly trapped in its aura well beyond it's ending. It's a great addition to a great day, and is easily Mendes' best film since Road to Perdition.

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