“Away We Go” is a pleasant and unexpected film from Director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”, “Revolutionary Road”) that follows Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) who try and find a place to call home after discovering they’re going to have a baby. Very much in love, Burt and Verona are a wonderful couple that question their place in life after realizing they’re still not sure where they want to call home. Verona says to Burt, “We’re 34 and we don’t even have the basic stuff figured out”, but as the film goes on, you start to see that Burt and Verona have more figured out than the people they visit on their quest to finding the perfect place to raise their child and start their family.
At six months pregnant, Verona along with Burt visit his parents Gloria and Jerry (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) who inform them that they’re moving overseas a month before the baby is born. Burt and Verona are shocked, especially considering that they moved just to be near Gloria and Jerry. Thus begins their journey to find a place that suits them both and the life they want for their kid. The first stop is Arizona, then Madison where Burt has a job interview, and finally to Montreal where their college friends live. Burt and Verona give every place a chance, trying to imagine how they would fit their lives into each new place. Each new place, however, brings them a closer look at the many kinds of parents and children that are out there.
In Arizona, Verona’s former boss, Lily (Allison Janney) proves to be an obnoxious parent who pokes fun of her kids in their presence. In Madison, Burt loses his rather calm demeanor when they go to dinner at his childhood friend, LN’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal) home. She and her husband practice a Continuum home and have a shared bed with their children, don’t believe in strollers because they “push the baby away”, and don’t view working hard for your money quite the same was as Burt and Verona. In Montreal, Verona and Burt think they’ve found the perfect family. Tom and Munch Garnett (Chris Messina, Melanie Lynskey) have adopted children who are wonderfully behaved, and they still have time for each other. The only thing is, Much can’t get pregnant; and while they love the family they have, it’s the one piece they feel is missing. Finally, Burt and Verona make their way to visit Burt’s brother, Courtney (Paul Schneider) because his wife just left him and his little girl.
While the journey itself is a wonderful and often humorous thing to watch, and the families they uncover are well thought out and wonderfully acted, what makes “Away We Go” so special are the little moments throughout. There’s Burt’s dreams about the kind of childhood he wants their kid to have (he wants her to be able to explore the great outdoors and be able to entertain herself outside), a touching conversation Verona and her sister, Grace (Carmen Ejogo, wonderful in her scenes) share when they talk about their deceased parents, and some of the best moments towards the end of the film that bring Burt and Verona closer to home, and ultimately closer to each other. “Away We Go” isn’t your typical film about finding a place to call home, it’s more than that. It’s a deeper look at two people in love who recognize the lives they don’t want, and move towards finding the best place for them to grow as a couple, and as a family.
“Away We Go” far exceeded my expectations. It was unlike an Sam Mendes film I’ve seen, and yet it still holds up to his caliber of work. Having watched the film, I couldn’t imagine any one else in the roles of Burt and Verona. Krasinski is refreshing and charming as calm, mild mannered, Burt and Rudolph is unbelievably captivating, moving, and equally as charming as Verona. Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida’s script is subtle and honest, and the musical score by Alexi Murdoch helps carry the film forward at a wonderful pace. “Away We Go” is worth a look, if only as a reminder that Home is what you make of it with the people you love.
VIDEO: "Away We Go" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). Sharpness and detail were unremarkable, but the picture maintained pleasing definition - with the exception of a couple of softer moments - at all times.
As for flaws, some mild edge enhancement is seen in a handful of scenes, as well, which proves to be somewhat of a distraction. Print flaws remain at a minimum, with only a few little specks seen on the elements. No noise or other concerns are spotted. Colors look fine, with very nice saturation and no smearing or other faults. Black level also looked solid, while flesh tones generally appeared natural.
SOUND: The film's DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack remained dialogue-driven, with the surrounds only used for some minor ambience and occasional reinforcement of the music. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and clear, well-recorded music.
“Making of Away We Go” - In this feature, Mendes starts off by saying about “Away We Go”, “It dances to its own rhythm” which is a wonderful way to describe the film. He goes on to talk about wanting to do this kind of film and working with a new crew that required him to break some old habits from previous films. This is a nice feature with interviews with cast and crew about the characters, dialogue, casting, music and everything in between.
“Green Filmmaking” is a look at how for “Away We Go” they decided to make a green film due to the lack of stuff that’s thrown away at the end of productions and the changes made to make the green filmmaking work.
Commentary with Director Sam Mendes, and writers Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida. This is an engaging commentary that touches on most aspects of the film, including how real-life couple Eggers and Vida came about writing the script. Worth a listen.
Final Thoughts: With both touching and humorous moments, as well as wonderful performances, “Away We Go” far exceeded my expectations. Recommended.
The Film B