A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover "home" on their own terms for the first time.
Burt Farlander and Verona De Tessant are a couple steeped in eccentricity and irregularity but are very much in love. So when they find out that Verona is pregnant they seem to be taking it in their stride. Verona is enjoying pregnancy, Burt is already practicing skill that he believes a good father should have, and they living in the same state as Burt's parents, Jerry and Gloria, so that their prospective daughter can have grandparents. However, things are shaken up when Burt and Verona go to dinner at Jerry and Gloria's house, as Burt's parents reveal a surprising piece of news. They have decided to move to Antwerp in Belguim a month before the baby is due, scuppering Burt and Verona's plans of having their children's grandparents around. Because Verona lost her parents when she was relatively young, she finds this news very hard to take, but the resilient couple quickly find a way to turn it in to a positive. It becomes obvious that this is what the pair needed, as they decide to ... Written by
I think I can honestly say that I like Sam Mendes. His films seem to gun above all else for a place of timeless emotional resonance (even when that timelessness eludes the films themselves) and usually succeed, even within the more confined quarters of their respective settings, whether the war-gutted landscape of Jarhead or the 30s era noir of Road To Perdition. Although the critically loved American Beauty loses alarming shades of impact for me with each viewing due to its flawed philosophical stabs toward truth, Mendes still manages to provoke a contemplative mindset out of his audience. His films operate well on that level, even when they fall short in their personal declarations.
Away We Go is Mendes' warmest film to date, taking on a tone of humor and lightness that none of his other works approached without a biting irony to match. Bert (The Office's John Krasinsky) and Verona (SNL's Maya Rudolph) are a young couple expecting their first child. They occupy a ramshackle trailer in Colorado near where Bert's parents (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O' Hara) live. Bert and Verona's reasons to remain in the area fall apart quickly when his parents decide to immediately move to France for a couple years, despite hearing the news of their coming grandchild. With that incentive now gone, the couple embarks on a road trip around the continental U.S. to reunite with old friends and look for a new place to call home. With each stop, through each encounter with estranged family and past friends, they find unsurety in their future as well as deepening layers in their relationship.
I've read a couple accounts that criticize the clashes between the poignancy and humor in Away We Go, and to a certain extent I would have to agree. There is definitely a clumsily staggered rhythm at certain points in the story, but overall I'd say that the heart of the insights and conflict overcomes the erraticism of the pace. There is some great chemistry between Krasinsky and Rudolph, and the talent (the aforementioned Daniels and O' Hara, Jim Gaffigan, Allison Janney, Paul Schneider, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, among the rest of the supporting ensemble) create convincing foils and compliments to Bert and Verona's journey. The direction is solid, and the screenplay (by first time screenwriters, novelist husband-and-wife team Vandela Vida and Dave Eggers) is sharp, hilarious and mostly consistent with its narrative. There's really nothing to keep me from recommending Away We Go. It's got an infectious vibe to it, and while it may be incongruent at times, and perhaps ride the Juno/Little Miss Sunshine/Junebug wave a little hard, it still remains enjoyable and heartfelt.
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