RogerBW's Blog

Safety Not Guaranteed 10 April 2014

2012, dir. Colin Trevorrow, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass: IMDb / allmovie

A journalist and two interns, trying for a human-interest story, interview a man who's placed an advertisement for a companion in time travel.

While there are obviously science-fictional elements here, this is primarily a drama that subverts the romantic comedy template: there are plenty of damaged people here, and some of them find the answers they need while others don't. Budget is obviously and visibly minimal, but it does the film no harm; it's deliberately anchored in mundane reality, after all, and a big budget would simply have been distracting. The locations and props get out of the way to allow us to focus on the acting and characters, and I found them both really good.

This is Plaza's film, as her intern Darius leads a double life between befriending Kenneth the potential time traveller and reporting on him to her boss Jeff. She's up to the challenge, and I'm disappointed that she hasn't had more major roles after this, though a TV schedule is demanding.

Mark Duplass as Kenneth is convincing as someone who may or may not be dangerously insane but is certainly unpredictable, but Jake Johnson as Jeff is effectively the second lead for much of the film; he's nominally in charge, but he's grabbed the assignment as an excuse to look up an old girlfriend, and his attempts to get her into bed parallel the growing closeness between Darius and Kenneth.

Some moments are perhaps over-cutesey and self-indulgent, and the running theme of how one can't recapture one's youth is sometimes a bit too much in the foreground, but overall this is a most effective piece to which I may well return. Highly recommended.

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  1. Posted by Phil Masters at 08:03am on 11 April 2014

    Aubrey Plaza plays a hugely entertaining deadpan in Parks and Recreation. I get the impression that her career is doing okay at present.

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