Away We Go – Blu-ray Review

Nearly a decade after the roaring success of his directorial debut American Beauty, Sam Mendes started working on a little indie movie entitled Away We Go.  The film would go unnoticed and would do little to nothing to further the career of any involved.  Mendes may have taken the lack of success as a hint to move on from the genre and move on to direct Skyfall and Spectre (not that both films aren’t great in their own way) but it seems to me that this is exactly the type of film that Mendes should be pursuing.  The film itself takes a very different approach than anything we have seen from him in the past, and that is absolutely a great thing.  Mendes has always done well to take the raw emotional experience of his theatrical background and translate it to the silver screen.  Away We Go is no exception to this.  What stands out most in this particular film, much like the rest of his body of work, is how well established the characters seem.  Leading me to believe that if nothing else, Mendes chooses a film that has the unique characters in them.  

The film is much funnier than you may expect from a cursory glance.  Krasinski and Rudolph, of course, both having quite the experienced comedic background it should be no surprise that they were able to pull this off.  What they add to it is the down to earth quality of real, normal, just like you and me, everyday folk.  It is addicting to watch these two try and figure out what it’s all about.

 

The Film

Burt and Verona are expecting something grander out of life for their unborn child.  When Burt’s parents suddenly decide to move out of the country before Verona delivers they take it upon themselves to uproot their life and find their own place in the world.  So they travel to three locations in an attempt to find their new home  Madison, Phoenix, and Toronto.  Along with their journey, they come to see many different directions their new family can take.  From a family that is exhausted to one that has taken new age methods to the absolute extreme, they finally come to see a dynamic they can identify with and finally start to see some hope for their new family.  The question becomes will they finally be able to find a place that suits them and not everyone else.  

 

Burt and Verona is a great depiction of an “every couple” they do well to represent the part of all couples that desperately tries to find their place amongst every other couple and make their own way.  The chemistry and humor that Krasinski and Rudolph are able to create transcend the roles we have seen them in before and makes this couple and these moments very real.  You really manage to fall in love with this couple and their mission to find a home.  

 

The Film 4/5

Picture Quality

If there is one thing Sam Mendes is good at – it is framing a moment.  This is more than evident in his previous work and Away We Go is no exception.  There are quite a few moments that just purely stand out almost like things have slowed down and we should be taking notice.  Seasoned cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Blow, Coffee and Cigarettes) helped bring this vision to the screen as someone who is used to accommodating a rather particular goal in mind in regards to filming style.  The film feels right at home in the living room, as there are no particularly grandiose moments or effects that necessarily feel better three stories tall.  The transfer to Blu-ray feels natural and has some remnant of that graininess that I have come to enjoy with films like this, giving it that “reach out and touch it” feeling.

 

Picture Quality 4/5

Audio Quality

Walking that thin line between Drama and Comedy, Away We Go finds itself a member of the indie film genre, at least stylistically.  I cannot be sure that is what Mendes had in mind when he set on the project but a lot of the decisions made for the film certainly made that a big part of the end result.  One of those decisions included bringing in Alexi Murdoch to work as the primary artist for the film’s soundtrack.  Murdoch has been featured in several prominent films of this nature including but not limited to Garden State and This is Where I Leave You.  Overall, Murdoch gives the film a rather down to earth and unique feel, like this, could very well be your life.  A prime example of what music can do to add to the experience of the film overall.  For home viewing, I had some intermittent issues with the film but that being said it was not enough to remove me from the experience or take away anything from the initial viewing whatsoever.

 

Audio Quality 4/5

 

Packaging

The artwork featured on this release is unique and as such stands out not only on the shelf but also in your memory.  For the (most likely) rather few of us who when thinking of a film remember the case artwork first (yes I do this) this one is hard to forget.  I think it is the color scheme and just how happy overall the couple seems along with the muted orange title across the front it just sticks out.  Other than the unique artwork, nothing really stands out else wise.  We have a standard Eco-Case with one disc and no disc artwork. The back seems crowded and too busy for my liking but stays with the central theme the front of the case suggests.  That this film, overall, is a good time.  

 

The Packaging 3/5

Special Features

I didn’t expect many features for this release, but I was hoping to get some insight to how they managed to make the film feel so raw.  Luckily, it would seem that I am not the only one that felt the relationship portrayed comes across unique and real in a way that just separates it from any other film.  Mendes is known for his ability to bond with his cast and really give them the chance to spread their wings and this was no exception.  We hear from almost every member of the cast on how wonderful it was to work with him and how agreeable he is to let the process unfurl.  The Special Features included are as follows:

 

  • The Making of Away We Go
    • We get to hear from the cast and director Sam Mendes on the unique language and subject matter the film follows.  
  • Green Filmmaking
    • We find out just how much effort went into making this a completely green filmmaking process

Special Features 2/5

Overall

Mendes does well to create a world that is not only interesting but believable as well.  Unsurprisingly so as he specialized in theater beforehand and knew how to capture a moment just the right way.  He continues to capture moments in people’s lives, however, raw and unsettling they may be.  The genre and subject matter do not come across that unique and it all seems like something you may have seen before.  Luckily, Mendes put his faith in Krasinski and Rudolph to capture the spirit of their characters and make the experience unique through chemistry.  I rather enjoyed the way Krasinski managed to seem just real enough as though you might know someone just like him. I rather enjoyed the overall telling of the story and how it is presented is unique and enjoyable from the start.  You can purchase this edition HERE.

Overall 3.5/5

Jonathan Combs

Podcaster, Movie Reviewer, and Film Fanatic. I have been collecting Movies since I was 7 years old much to my wallet's dismay. Big Fan of Box Set's and Criterion.

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