Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.


November 12, 2009

Movie Review: Away We Go


Last night Julian and I watched Away We Gowith Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. We had seen it in the theatres, and laughed and cried, and loved it. But was it really as good as we remembered? Yes. And then some.

Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) are expecting their first child. When Burt's parents (brilliant cameos by Catherine O'Harra and Jeff Daniels) decide to move to Antwerp, Burt and Verona realize they don't really have a home--so they wander from place to place (Arizona, Madison, Montreal, Miami) trying to find, as Peter Travers said "a place not to be lost in America."

The commercials featured the hilarious and just plain awful families they visit: the new-agey overbearing self-righetous Maggie Gyllenhal, the vulgar Allison Janney. While Burt and Verona live in a trailer and have a "cardboard window"--its clear, after seeing these other screwed-up families, that Burt and Verona are going to be ok.

Besides their remarkably full relationship, we get to see Verona's sister, Grace, Burt's brother (newly separated, and busy dealing with how to be a single dad of a little girl), and their college friends, who have a glorious hodge-podge of a family (adopted kids of all ages) because they cannot conceive. The best scene in the film is when this couple tells Burt and Verona what family life is all about. Pouring syrup over a house made of toothpicks and a coaster, he says that love--but not just love--carrying on when you don't have a single ounce of life left in you, humility, sacrifice--that's the glue. That's what makes marriage and families work. One leaving their home, Verona says to Burt: this is the family I want.

They eventually do find a home, the perfect, rooted home. The movie is less about their relationship with each other and more about the life they will lead together. And this rootedness seems to me to be the perfect antidote to this restless placeless energy that has consumed our generation.

The film is a joy. Check it out.

(By the way...the very first scene may scandalize some. It's pretty funny, but a bit shocking too...just a warning.)

4 comments:

Angela Miceli said...

I am so excited!! It's next on my netflix!!

JoAnn said...

After reading your review of "Away We Go", I eagerly went out and rented it last weekend. I am a fan of this blogspot; love the Catholic influence and truly trusted the reviewer. My husband and I were sorely disappointed in the movie, but moreover, because the recommendation had come from this blog.

How can one practicing and professing Catholicism embrace this movie? True, you warned us of the opening scene, but, truly, my husband and I were most uncomfortable with the contents. Oral sex?? Furthermore, the "f" word was used liberally throughout the film (even to the last line of the movie); God's name was taken in vain; sex outside of marriage was glorified. Parts of this movie were crude, vulgar and disgusting. While the movie attempted to be a character study of this couple's friends and family, it fell way short of having any moral redeeming value.

In short, I trusted your opinion and felt duped. So disappointed in the movie and you.

Agatha Magdalene said...

JoAnn:

I am sorry you were disappointed by this movie. Clearly we have different standards with regards to language and even sex on screen, and perhaps I should have put a clearer warning in my review.

Aside from the opening scene, I am not sure what you consider crude and vulgar that the audience is not supposed to think is crude and vulgar--specifically Janney and Gyllenhal's cameos. We are supposed to be disgusted by them; these two have seriously messed up relationships, rich parodies of so much that is wrong in our culture today.

I still stand by my review. The movie captures something very real about our generation. We are lost, we don't know where our home is. After all the turmoil of the 20th century, our parents wild adventures either in the 60s and 70s or now as empty nesters, plus the extravagance and liberality of the 90s and 00's we hardly know what to think, where to be, what to strive for.

Given the state of our generation, I feel Burt and Verona are doing ok, and will be ok. OF COURSE (if they were real people) I would hope that they would be married. But (if they were real peaople), I would also have to take them on their own terms, and I think I would find that Burt and Verona are wonderful examples of what married love is: they make each other laugh, they are in awe of each other, they are thrilled and scared about the baby, they love and respect the others passions, and support each other's work, they would give up everything for each other, and they are on the same page.

Lots of people are in genuinely loving relationships that aren't married. Which is not to excuse that behavior on moral grounds--but only to say that this movie captures something real. Furthermore their relationship is stronger and more secure (and for that matter more self sacrificing) than any other depiction of couples of our generation that I've seen in the movies.

Ultimately, though, this movie is less about defending a way of life and more about finding your way home through love, selflessness, and courage. That is the Christian charge, and I am glad to see anyway take it on.

Angela Miceli said...

In part, I understand JoAnn's comment. When I saw the opening scene, I thought - REALLY? I mean, is that NECESSARY? OF COURSE NOT. Opening scene aside, I thought the film was a wonderful commentary on the silliness, ridiculousness, and sadness that we face every day. It did irk me that Verona and Burt did not want to be married for a silly reason. And it did seem like all the married couples had it all wrong, as though almost being anti-marriage. But it was not that way.

Their friends from college, although struggling with infertility, loved each other and all of their lovely adopted children. And in reality, marriages struggle, and people suffer. And children are born out of wedlock. I felt like when Verona finally was able to face home again, she might indeed be able to marry Burt at the end. But the film leaves it open-ended and it should.

And I don't agree that the film was simply meant to be a character study. It was meant to show that even when it seems like all is lost, like when its all wrong, like you've done everything wrong - love, redemption, and growth can still be present, moral sensibilities aside. In short, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

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