June 18, 2009

Two Couples

I had the pleasure of seeing the film, Away We Go, starring John Krasinski(Burt) and Maya Rudolf (Verona). A delightful, moving picture, touted as the Juno of 2009, is really an original piece that blends beautifully its poignant moments and humorous bits. The story centers on a young couple about to become new parents, who are desperately seeking a place to make a home for their baby. They move like nomads across the country to see relatives and friends, hoping to find that perfect home. Their destination (which I won't reveal because it is more wonderful if you don't know before you see it) is one of the most moving scenes in the whole film. The main characters of Burt and Verona literally shine throughout the movie against the artificial, tarnished visages of the other players (serious accolades must be given to the performances of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Alison Janney). They have an almost perfect love that transcends this world. In fact, there is a scene where Verona worries that their unique love won't survive their pessimistic society. It's an honest question.

I find it interesting that Sam Mendes directed this movie about a couple preserving their devotion to each other in a jaded world when six months prior, Mendes' film Revolutionary Road was released. This film, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, tells Richard Yates' story of a young couple whose bohemian ambitions are squashed by the reality of their circumstances, namely that April becomes pregnant unexpectedly. This story takes place in the 1950s, while Burt and Verona exist in a contemporary time where an expecting couple can continue on their path without marriage and worry of the neighbors will think.
April and Frank's relationship embodies such turmoil and loathing, while Verona and Burt's story maintains the bond of their quiet love and a peaceful acceptance of their circumstances. In this way Verona and Burt seem incredibly mature beyond their years and their peers in the film. On the other hand, April and Frank act like spoiled children, who squirm in their places, always longing for greener pastures. Verona and Burt also long for a better place in which to raise their baby, but their ambition has a patience and acceptance of destiny , which Frank and April refuse to embrace. They want control and will accept nothing less.

Even the music of each film reveals the diverging tempos of the couples. In Revolutionary Road, Thomas Newman's eerie, futile piano score spells out the melancholy emoted by April and Frank. Each note reveals how the couple devolves into ghosts of their former selves. In Away We Go, Alexi Murdoch sings sweet, simple ballads in a whispering tone, asking questions about life and love, which blends perfectly with Burt and Verona's quest to find that perfect home for their baby.

I surmise that the release of these two very different movies by the same director within a six month period was due more to studio scheduling than an artistic juxtaposition. Each rendering offers the viewer very different interpretations of the couple life, a bitter, deteriorating side next to a kind, gentle aspect. In reality, neither is wholly real, but perhaps a tribute to the varying moments experienced by every person who shares their life with another.

Images found here and here.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, what a great comparison between these two movies, I'm quite impressed. I really am eager to see both of them!


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