It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Burt and Verona are two characters rarely seen in the movies: thirtysomething, educated, healthy, self-employed, gentle, thoughtful, whimsical, not neurotic and really truly in love. Their great concern is finding the best place and way to raise their child, who is a bun still in the oven. For every character like this I’ve seen in the last 12 months, I’ve seen 20, maybe 30, mass murderers.
Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go” is a film for nice people to see. Nice people also go to “Terminator Salvation,” but it doesn’t make them any nicer. “Away We Go” opened last week in New York and Los Angeles, and now rolls out after lukewarm reviews accusing Verona and Burt of being smug, superior and condescending. These are not sins if you have something to be smug about and much reason to condescend.
Are the supporting characters caricatures or simply a cross-section of the kinds of grotesques we usually meet in movies? I use the term grotesque as Sherwood Anderson does in Winesburg, Ohio: a person who has one characteristic exaggerated beyond all scale with the others.
Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) live not far from his parents, in an underheated, shabby home with a cardboard-covered window. “We don’t live like grown-ups,” Verona observes. It’s not that they can’t afford a better home, as much that they are stalled in an impoverished student lifestyle. Now that they’re about to become parents, they can’t keep adult life on hold.