This low-key, intimate Canadian film is in danger of passing by unnoticed. An anatomy of two relationships—a marriage and a courtship that overlap—the film is excitingly fresh and unconventional, and one of the few bright spots in a dim summer movie season.
Safety Not Guaranteed tells the story of Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a bored intern at a Seattle magazine. While researching a human interest story about Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a scientist/ store clerk who has placed a newspaper ad looking for a companion to accompany him into the future, Darius finds herself learning valuable life lessons about trust, loss, hope and, of course, love.
Writer-director Todd Solondz is the patron saint of schlubs and schlemiels. From his award-winning debut film Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996) through a series of low-budget projects, he casts an empathic eye on outsiders who can’t catch a break, no matter how hard they try.
Lit by the prodigious cinematographer Darius Khondji, Rome looks glorious in Woody Allen’s latest, an omnibus of four loosely connected comedies in different styles. The movie is a pleasant diversion, if rather clumsy in its construction.
Along the Beaver Creek, lobelia clings to the soil, foiling its every effort to sneak into the stream, which riffles over rocks below, aerating the water that fuels the wetland where a dragonfly squints its blue, bulbous eyes, spying mosquitoes mating, then steers its body to reach their next move. Do you dare, while traipsing this trail and glancing milkweed blossoms, to covet anything your neighbor may have?
Six months later, and a mile away, on a lime-dusted field, a singular tree, its leaves shorn and humming in wind somewhere south, waits. Winter will bear a crop of snow, which will deepen with the season and wrap around the stoic oak. No one will amble by for months. Driving by, will you sing your praise purely from the road’s safe distance?
In between, where there is so much time, when inspiration won’t spread its wings and raise its crimson head,
when nothing but mud dominates the wetland, when tarnished tin is the only color the sky can muster,
what then? Will you savor the age-old scent of the now-and-not-yet, sense its tension in the toppled tree, damp and fungus festooned,