Away We Go * * * 1/2

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Director: Sam Mendes.
Screenplay: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida.
Starring: John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeff Daniels, Catherine O’Hara, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Messina, Paul Schneider, Carmen Ejogo, Josh Hamilton.

Director Sam Mendes may never reach the abundant award winning heights of “American Beauty” again, but he’s proved along the road (Revolutionary and Perdition included) that he can still deliver the goods. This is a change of direction for him altogether but it’s still a fine addition to his growing catalogue of family dramas.

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are expecting their first baby. When Burt’s parents, the couple’s sole reason for moving to their current non-descript town, decide to leave the US, the couple go on a trip cross-country to find somewhere to raise their child.

When the film opens we are given a introduction to the solid relationship that the two main characters share, as while performing oral sex on his partner, Burt candidly talks about the theory of different vaginal flavours due to menopause or pregnancy. This duly recieves a slap in the face mid-performance, and thankfully for us he was talking about the latter. So then begins the journey of Burt & Verona as they mould the future of their family. John Krasinski and especially Maya Rudolph are a delight as the two endearing parents-to-be. In fact all the performances are appealing and subtly real and the whole cast pitches in. The real highlights though are the eccentric characters on our protaganists travels, mainly Alison Janney as the witty and offensive ex-colleague and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the free spirited sister. They are particular standouts in an exceptional cast. Despite mainly being a humorous road-trip, it’s peppered with some wise and wonderful scenes and has some moments of heartbreaking realism. The soundtrack is also filled with wonderful gems of music and despite it’s style, it’s missing only one thing…a Nick Drake song.

Mendes has equipt himself well once more and delivered an unusually heartwarming and quite lovely little film.

Mark Walker

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