Away We Go

by Jess

C took me to the movie theater last night for my birthday and even bought me over-priced popcorn and pink lemonade, even though we’d just eaten dinner — because it’s part of the experience.  I love going to the movie theater.  I love everything about it: the smell of salt and butter, the sticky floors and squeaky seats, the crackles and hisses of the film winding through the projector.  A wild, joyous excitement overtakes me when the lights dim for the previews.

We saw Away We Go, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida and directed by Sam Mendes.  The movie has gotten some very poor reviews, accusations of smugness, superiority, and condescension, but I can’t understand why.  It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Eggers’ work (having never read anything of Vida’s), but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it seems that he knows how good he is.  This flick wasn’t smug though.  Many reviewers thought that the protagonists, Burt and Verona, are set as foils against all the other self-absorbed or hurting characters, showcasing how superior they are to everyone else.  I found the other characters to be warnings about how life can go so terribly wrong.  Burt and Verona believe they are in love like no one else has ever been; but didn’t all those other couples probably think the same thing at some point?  And now look at them.  Burt starts to freak out one evening — what if one of them can’t handle it and walks out?  What if he is killed by falling objects while walking near a construction site?  (Verona counsels him to stay away from construction sites.)  “All we can do is be good for this one baby,” she says (or something like that; I don’t have the best memory).  “We don’t have control over much else.”

Almost every negative review mentions the words “indie” or “hipster,” and I think there’s more than a little prejudice against the culture of the film — or its writers.  I’ve seen smug movies and I’ve read smug books, and this film just isn’t.  It’s sweet, and it’s very funny.  It wasn’t perfect, mind you — I found the ending a bit too contrived — but it was good.

In other news, I don’t know why I’ve been reading so much about gender issues lately, but I found an amusing article by Stephen Moss in The Guardian about how men are risk-takers and therefore produce greater art.  (Apparently it was meant to run concurrent with Tanya Gold’s article about the benefits of a world without men.  Moss’ was funny, at least.  Gold’s is just a rehash of rather tired old jokes.  Tongue in cheek, I hope.)  The best part may be the comment after Moss’ article from a user named sofistiKate: “I like men.  Couldn’t eat a whole one though.  Tried a few times…”