Away We Go

January 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

As far as I remember, Away We Go didn’t make a huge splash when it was released. This strikes me as kind of odd, due to the fame of both director Sam Mendes and co-writer Dave Eggers. You would have thought that this combination would have, at the very least, inspired the numerous indie/ postmodern twenty-somethings to come and check it out. Add to this the fact that John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) are our protagonists and you would imagine the hipster cred of this film to be off the charts. Needless to say, when I sat down to watch Away We Go I expected a witty, ironic ride through the lives of a couple trying to find a place to raise their expected child. What I didn’t expect was a film filled with a tenderness and respect for the ups and downs of the human condition, but this is exactly what Away We Go delivered.

Krasinski and Rudolph play a thirty-something couple (Bert and Verona) who find themselves pregnant and, looking at their current residence, decide it’s time for them to find a better place to raise their child. The first half of the movie is largely played for comedy as they visit Arizona and Wisconsin, meeting some truly outlandish friends and acquaintances along the way. This changes with the second half of the movie, as they travel to Montreal to visit some old college friends and them to Miami where  Bert’s brother has just been left by his wife. Suddenly, the film cuts right to the heart in a way that reveals the deepest struggles that we all have. Bert and Verona lay on a trampoline in his brother’s backyard and share some of their greatest fears and deepest struggles, and there I sit, seeing my own life and my fears reflected right back at me. I connected with them, in a way I haven’t connected with a character in a film in a long time.

This moment was so powerful because it revealed that not just Bert and Verona, but all these characters, like all of us, had baggage. Their lives were tossed and turned by life’s waves and they all had things that had influenced and changed their lives for good and bad. This is a profound truth about life, that no matter how much love our parents, friends and significant others give us we will have baggage. Our minds will have been messed with, our lives twisted around, sometimes by people with the best of intentions. Some people try to repress this, or offer up reasons for why their lives are so screwed up, like some of the characters at the beginning of the film. But others, like Bert and Verona, own their faults and move ahead, aware and unashamed of the people they are.

Every day we are faced with the choice to be authentic or fake. So often I opt for fake because it is easier to admit I have no problems, instead of picking up my baggage and carrying it with me. It’s been my experience that the only ways to begin to correct your problems and find peace in your messed up life is to admit that you do, indeed, have problems. Just like everyone else.

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