Seeking A Friend for the End of the World

Dustin Gebel

In “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” debut director and writer Lorene Scafaria examines the idea of companionship during the apocalypse.

The film’s emotional focus on the friendship between Steve Carell and Keira Knightley overshadows the larger narrative of the film.

The film opens with a news report stating that in three weeks time the world is going to end after a collision with an asteroid. As this revelation occurs, Carell’s character Dodge Petersen ignores his wife and she leaves him. While the world around him descends into chaos, Petersen continues to go about his mundane day-to-day life until a co-worker commits suicide.

He attends a party with old friends and begins to reminisce about an old flame. It is during his return home that he comes across a dejected Penny, played by Keira Knightley, sobbing on the apartment’s fire escape. She confides to Dodge that her boyfriend ruined her last chance at going home to England and then that Petersen’s wife was cheating.

Dodge goes on to try and commit suicide with Windex and cough syrup. Waking up half nude tied to a dog in a park, he returns home to a riot taking place on his street. He and Penny flee, leaving everything but her vinyl collection behind. The rest of the film follows Petersen’s search for his former girlfriend and Penny’s attempt to get to England.

The film’s strongest feature is the performance of the two lead characters. Knightley and Carell bring a vulnerability to their roles and share moments of true connection.

The central theme of the film is a dilemma that many people face every day: the unchanging and inescapable rut. To portray this, the film uses drab and depressing colors in the opening portions of the film; later though, the tone evolves as the two protagonists travel further and further.

At one point in the film, Knightley and Carell share a meal in an old diner that rapidly descends into a wild orgy. The use of bright colors and a busy mise en scène gives the viewers hope; not everyone will let the end of the world force them into suicide. On the opposite end of the color spectrum is the film’s, where the two lie in bed in a darkened room where they accept their fate, taking comfort in each other’s presence.

The plot lags in places, but by bypassing the plot and instead placing attention on the two leads, the directors create an intimate conversation about humans seeking others.

Throughout the film the main characters try to find something before the world ends. For Petersen, it is the love of a woman from his past, while Penny seeks nothing more than her family. The two instead find the connection they’re searching for in one another.

Overall, even with rough dialogue, an underwhelming plot and mouthy title, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a movie worth the watch.

The chemistry between Knightley and Carell, the overall theme and the impressive use of color override the negative aspects of the film. The film, available on Netflix, is one that I would strongly recommend. Its message can be comforting to anyone who feels lonely or is seeking the same thing that the protagonists are.