It always reminds me why I love the artistic medium of film when I see a good film. Sam Mendes' (American Beauty, Reservation Road) film is funny, quirky, tender, heart-warming and whether you like it or not it will make you feel. His last film "Reservation Road" hit you over the head with its heavy-handed emotions, but he uses a lighter touch with "Away We Go". But make no mistake the emotions are still there. It shows all different sorts of families in a realistic if crunchy, granola type of way. He captures a loving couple trying to figure out where to put down their roots as they start a family.
Burt (John Krasinski – from television's The Office) and Verona (May Rudolph – from television's Saturday Night Live) are about to have their first child when they find out that his parents, who they moved from Chicago to be close to, are moving to Austria for a few years. Suddenly they realize that they can choose to live anywhere. But the question is where. The young couple set off on a trip across North American (yes, they even try on Montreal for size) to find the perfect city to bring their soon-to-be-born child up in.
They go to Phoenix to see a former co-worker (Allison Janney – Juno, Hairspray – 2007) of Verona's, Miami to see Burt's brother (Paul Schneider – Lars and the Real Girl, The Family Stone), Madison to see Burt's friend (Maggie Gyllenhaal – Mona Lisa Smile, ), Tucson to see Verona's sister (Grace Ejogo – The Brave One, Pride and Glory), and Montreal to see former college buddies. What they find out is that they don't want to have these types of families, rather what they want bottom line is to live the way they feel will be best for their child. It really isn't about where they live, but how they live.
The beauty of the film is its realism. The fact that you know people like these two. We have had experience with, on some level, the dilemmas they are going through. We really are drawn into their lives, their decisions and, most importantly, into caring about these two uncertain human beings.
The fact that we relate and see these two as real human beings has everything to do with the two actors portraying him. The loveable John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph (in her first film) have a great chemistry and that allows us to be pulled into their world. We believe them as a couple and we want to go on this emotional voyage with them. The premise of the film is a little on the contrived side, but you overlook this due to the chemistry between the two leads. You will find yourself swept away and into their lives.
This is not a mainstream film and as such will not attract droves of moviegoers. It is, however, Sam Mendes' best film about marriage and the American family since the brilliant "American Beauty".