Here’s another quirky film I watched this week. Safety Not Guaranteed from 2012 provides an intriguing premise: an unusual want-ad sets three magazine employees on the trail of a reclusive (perhaps deranged) fellow who insists he can time-travel … and means to do so with a companion he hopes to hire via his want-ad.
Of the four main characters in this film, not one of them was familiar to me. I note that Aubrey Plaza is a cast member of Parks and Recreation (a television comedy series I’ve never viewed). In this movie, she demonstrated great timing and subtlety. Then there’s Jake Johnson, a comedian whose resumé includes other shows I don’t know. Mark Duplass plays the recluse, again, not someone I recognized. Karan Soni may be the least recognizable of them all.
In some regard, my unfamiliarity with these four actors may have increased my enjoyment of the film. I had no expectations or preconceptions (based on a familiar body of work). This left me free to engage with the film.
The film is strange in places and the actors give uneven performances. Especially with the slightly off-center situation, there were moments when I wasn’t comfortable liking any of the main characters. From the beginning, I wanted to like (sympathize) with them, but at points they didn’t earn my sympathy. I wanted to trust the mysterious recluse, tried to convince myself he wasn’t driven by lunacy. I felt stuck in a kind of limbo, unable to say I liked the film, but equally unable to dislike it.
Perhaps that’s due in part because the premise made me want to like it and see the premise successfully implemented. Continue reading “What’s Your Mission?”