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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed - review (2012)

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me.  
This is not a joke.
   P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. 
You'll get paid after we get back.  
Must bring your own weapons. 
Safety not guaranteed. 
I have only done this once before.

That curious want ads is what sends three magazine writers on a hunt to find the person behind the posting.  Along the way we meet some interesting, offbeat characters.  Sounds like a vehicle to put quirkiness on display - luckily it is more than that.  It is a clever, character-drive film about about mistakes, regret, loneliness and the dream of time travel.

What starts with the trio skeptical attempting to determine the legitimacy of the time traveler only leads us to the core of the film, the relationship on the doe-eyed, eye rolling Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and the mystery man from the ad, Kenneth (Mark Duplass.)  We watch all characters reach into uncomfortable territory, connecting, reconnecting - finding friendship and solace in each other.  Unlike films that work hard to fill the ill conceived quirky mold some believe to be a requirement for "indie" film making (looking at you Napoleon Dynamite,) this film avoids the trend, offering characters that feel like real people (odd, but real) ones you can connect with.   It helps that the film, which takes place in Seattle, is not full of hi-tech contraptions or lingo - it takes place in easy to digest locales; restaurants, super markets, the woods, every day settings.

Although I may have lead you to believe otherwise, this film is not all sadness and longing, it offers many light, inventive, sweet and funny moments.  It is one part mystery, one part redemption story, one part romance.
(This is a good companion piece to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, another high concept film, that finds its center with the people involved, not the situation.

8 out of 10

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