Pleasant offering from Mendes
, 17 Jun 2009
This witty life-drama begins when a couple discover they are going to be parents for the first time, and the journey they take through the film (literal and emotional) has them wondering what type of parents they will be, and where they want to raise their children. The physical jouney sees them visiting friends and family across the US, seeing how they cope (or, in some cases, fail to cope) with the struggle of parenthood. The emotional journey sees them tackling their own inner fears, or upbringing, attempting to come to terms with the new responsibility they have.
This is one of those pleasant, life-affirming movies that doesn't really build to anything, but just takes a step back to look at a key moment in someone's life. The scattering of humour is not as hip and cool as, say, Juno (a similar tale of coping with newfound responsibility), and can be compared with, say, the antics of Sideways. A mature tale, with a very likeable lead couple. John Krasinski, from the US version of The Office, shines throughout as the laid back Burt, whilst Maya Rudolph, of Saturday Night Live fame, delivers the more emotional role as Verona. A scattering of well known faces supply support, such as Jeff Daniels and Catherine O'Hara as Burt's parents, and Alison Janney as the man-eating Lily. However, the standout scene stealer of support is Maggie Gyllenhaal as the spaced out, modern hippy 'LN', an old friend of Burt's whom he shares the laid back nature with, but comes to realise not as much as he believed.
The direction and pacing of the film give us enough time to get under the skin of these brief enconters with friends and family, and show us a diverse range of parenting skills from the good to the terrible. Nice touches of lingering scenic shots let us enjoy the journey across and around the US along with the couple, and all is complemented by a delightful musical score.
This is pretty much the type of film that we have come to expect from Sam Mendes, director of such films as American Beauty, Road To Perdition, and Revolutionary Road.
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