Monday, September 10, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

I'd seen trailers for Safety Not Guaranteed a while ago, but it looked like the sort of film that might never show up in Singapore. I was happy to see that it was one of the films available on our flight from Newark to Hong Kong. This was a big bonus compared to our flight from Halifax to New York (delayed by weather, rough as hell, and no screens) and even better than Narita-Chicago (not delayed, not turbulent, but with one screen that played the Three Stooges). The Three Stooges - like a custard pie being smashed into your face by Jim Carrey, forever.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a slightly strange film; just like Chronicle, another film set in Washington, it's not entirely obvious what it is; is it a comedy, a romance, a gloomy reflection on regretting the passage of time, a coming-of-age story? It delivers enough twists to keep you confused, without you feeling you're constantly having the rug yanked out from underneath you.

The ending isn't exactly what I expected, and there are a few reversals as the conclusion arrives, but the ending is a clean resolution that pulls the different threads together. The acting is a little variable; some of the supporting characters are a little flat, and the subplot with the second intern could be fleshed out more, but the leads are wonderfully naturalistic.

I kept wondering when the Enormous Special Effects would appear, but it's placid, lo-fi, chugging along in a very restful way from start to finish. There's a semi-deus ex machina in the part of the malevolent magazine editrix, and there are some chickens being fed corn, drunken behaviour at a high school football match, and a man crying as he drives a go kart round a track. By the end, it's almost Primer with a happy ending. Who could find fault with that?


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