“So, what are you doing with the rest of your life?” Instead of a pick-up line, it’s a question that takes on a different meaning when the end is less than a month in sight, in line with the oft-trumpeted 2012 end of world prophecy of the Mayans.

When the world is ending in 3 weeks, you don't really need a pick up line anymore.

However, unlike well-worn apocalyptic movies like the blockbuster 2012 or the classic Armageddon, both riding on inspiring human tenacity for survival,

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World finds humour even in the poignant backdrop of the impending annihilation of the human race.

While some live out the last 3 weeks with reckless abandon, suicides, wild orgies and other vices, Dodge (played by Steve Carell), an insurance agent dumped by his wife, is determined to spend his last days as unchanged as possible. Meanwhile, his neighbour, Penny (played by Keira Knightley) stumbles into his path after she cuts ties with her boyfriend (a cameo appearance by The O.C. star Adam Brody), and misses her last chance of catching a flight home to London. Together, they escape a rioting city on their last missions – for Dodge to seek out Olivia, his first love, and for Penny to find her family in London.

Dodge, Penny and "Sorry" leave on their final journey.

The first half of the film is punctuated with capricious mood changes, jumping back and forth from bleak and monotonous scenes to humorous and absurd ones. Its attempt to cover a hodgepodge of ‘what-if’ scenarios leave audiences grappling with the swings in mood, as a seemingly normal day at work gets interrupted with a suicide victim landing smack right onto Dodge’s car, or when Dodge and Penny’s travel companion gets killed in mid-conversation.

It is only after the madness gets exhausted that the real development in the second half of the film begins. The pair enjoy several incidents on their journey, such as meeting Penny’s ex-boyfriend and survivalist, which provides the only testosterone-boosting moment in the film you’ll get, Olivia’s house, where you finally see Penny and Dodge as a couple, and finally, Dodge’s father, with whom Dodge makes a belated reconciliation.

Directed and written by Lorene Scafaria, who was also screenwriter of romantic comedy, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a potent mix of dark humour and sentimentality. This film is winning in connecting audiences on a heartbreakingly personal level with moments that everyone can relate to, be it the fear of dying alone or regret for a life unlived. Scafaria milks this film’s tender moments for all its worth, giving Carell and Knightley ample freedom and screen time to develop their roles. Using several emotional, lengthy silences, Scafaria underscores the seriousness of situation and keeps the film from crossing into ridiculous.

Needless to say, Carrell and Knightley take the cake for the most unlikely couple, with a refreshing take on the familiar pairing of the quirky girl who crosses paths with an average Joe and spins his world on its head. Unlike films such as (500) Days of Summer or Sweet November where the dull guy pines for the girl of his dreams, Carell and Knightley are evenly matched in portraying a sweet and endearing friendship-turned-romance, albeit one that had a lot of help from the ending of the world. Whlie they may lack on-screen chemistry, they still keep the audience curious, interested and entertained with their easy banter and plain incompatibility that feels so wrong yet so right.

The chemistry between Carell and Knightley is just wonderfully interesting.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World can be considered yet another film under Carell’s belt where he nails the role of pathetic nice guy, as seen before in Dan in Real Life and Crazy, Stupid Love. Carell has us rooting for him within minutes as he maintains his sweet and tender demeanor right till the very end, fulfilling our expectations.

On the other hand, Knightley sheds her English rose persona, as seen in her earlier films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, and admirably takes on a fun-loving ditz, a role we rarely see her in. She succeeds in balancing the stereotypical flighty and quirky girl with a deeper sense of responsibility and perseverance. While she could’ve easily overplayed the kooky girl, Knightley delivers Penny with just the right amount of devil-may-care spirit and vulnerability that keeps the character from seeming single-dimensional and predictable.

At the end of it all, this film still leaves UrbanWire with several uncomfortable question marks, first of which is the poor dog who gets swept along Dodge’s and Penny’s tumultuous journey, yet doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose to drive the plot forward. Next is Dodge’s smiling housemaid who unfailingly returns to work each week, and leaves one wondering if she is apathetic, accepting or simply ignorant of the world ending.

When the party ends and all is said and done, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World blurs the lines between genres as it fluctuates from horror to comedy to romance. Love or hate it, this film will inevitably leave you deliberating what YOU would do if you only had a short amount of time left to live, and who you’d share your final hours with. That reflection alone is probably worth the price of admission.


Movie: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Rating: 3.5/5
Opens: August 2
Duration: 100 mins
Language: English
Age rating: NC16
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Directed by: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Keira Knightley, Steve Carell