It's been a while--I've been working on After the Garden, which will be out at the end of the month, and epic-failed at scheduling blog posts to compensate for it.
Now, this review is a bit special because I'm working on a novella about the same thing that prompted the movie. My own tale is completely different, but I wanted to watch this one to compare the differences.
There are a few
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERSBut not too many. So, without further ado, here's Safety Not Guaranteed.
It's s story about love, time travel, and second chances. There are no objectified Scotsmen, and the hot redhead and sexy young career woman are two separate people, and they're a lot more complex than the stereotypes. Basically, three reporters are hunting for stories and pick up a weird classified ad by a guy hunting for someone to travel through time with him. Of course, there's more to it than that, and they have to figure out whether the guy is actually on to something or a bit off his rocker. Obviously, I'm not telling you the answer.
I like movies that don't go overboard with exposition, and this one really doesn't. Characters do say their bits, but they don't spell out their feelings, and a lot of the backstory is left to the imagination. When exposition finally does come, it's at appropriate moments, and it's given the gravity it deserves. They also don't go for cheap tearjerks or overly simplified characterizations, and that's a pretty good thing.
I really like the simple camera work and the low budget, to be honest. It's got good production values, but unlike most sci fi, it's pretty simple to look at. It was a nice change. I say "sci fi", but whether it's sci fi or mumblecore is a distinction that isn't made until the end of the film. It's also got a big heart and is very sincere, but not in a crappy, Lifetime Movie kind of way. However, I might have gotten something in my eye at the end.
It's smart, subtle, and basically embodies everything good about indie movies. The acting is pretty good too--it's certainly realistic. Darius is incredibly realistic and played with a lot of subtlety. Jeff, her boss, is a douche with a scarred side, and reminds me of Peter from Fringe except that he's an asshole. Kenneth is particularly wonderful and heartrending, very Nathan Fillion-esque and sincere. And if you want a movie that's touching but not pandering, has relateable but not overly idealised characters and doesn't make things artificially easy, this is just the film.
By Hollywood standards, the pacing is a bit funky. Arnau is kind of flat and awkward, and frankly he just felt like an Indian-American Michael Cera, but he was basically just a straight-man and there to fill out the cast. He's intensely awkward too. His subplot was okay, I guess, but it didn't do anything for me, let's put it that way.
The pacing is a bit wobbly, and sometimes it feels intensely awkward--if you're susceptible to fremdtscham, embarrassment on behalf of others, this movie might make you feel funny. That's about it, though.
A solid 9 out of 10. It's just about perfect, it's rewarding, it's subtle, and it wraps things up while leaving an open door in the characters' lives. I couldn't ask for more from a movie, and Hollywood would do well to learn from this sweet little film. Definitely recommend it.