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> Away We Go
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Carmen Ejogo, Catherine OHara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Jannery, Jim Gaffigan, Samantha Pryor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Melanie Lynsky.
4 stars (out of 5)
Reviewed by Mark Orton.
You have to hand it to Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), he certainly has a habit of skilfully teasing innocuous set-ups into wonderful little vignettes of life. As a master of character development, Mendes normally has the luxury of working with seasoned performers such as Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name a few. This time out, Mendes is saddled with some relative unknowns ... and strikes gold.
Away We Go is a charming little film, the success of which rests on a host of US television personalities digging deep to find the raison d'être for their really amusing characters.
It follows a directionless couple in their early 30s, as they set out to discover the location for their future home ... hardly remarkable stuff, but then neither was the premise behind Little Miss Sunshine.
In a similar vein, Away We Go uses the journey with its frequent changes of scenery and cameo appearances, to capture snapshots of contemporary American life, in all its quirky glory.
What begins as a liberating exercise in selecting the best environment for their future family quickly dissolves into a meditation on how little you actually know about distant friends and family.
Best thing: Relative newbies Rudolph and Krasinski. Not only do they perfect their everyperson roles, they somehow transcend the fleeting but brilliant caricatures of their co-stars.
Worst thing: Not spending enough time with Burt's nut-job parents. O'Hara and Daniels are a class act that has to depart too early.
See it with: Any expectant parents, the parental anecdotes are priceless.