Away To The Library Bar

That’s where I spent most of my evening at last night’s Away We Go party. I have no celebrity anecdotes to offer, but I did meet a number of lovely people. I suppose I could regale you with tales of the evening’s questionable decisions, but what happens in the Library Bar stays in the Library Bar.

Jason and I listened to Sam Mendes speak today and I asked him a question about making a romantic comedy without the convention of break-up/make-up. He said that’s part of what attracted him to the script. It’s romantic and it’s a comedy, but it’s not a romantic comedy. So we returned to our flat and I did what I’ve been avoiding for weeks. I read some reviews.

As I’m sure you know, many critics have not been kind and I don’t have enough space here to pose a complete counterargument, but I would like to offer a direction of thought.

I can understand the idea that Verona and Burt are obnoxiously perfect and that there is a smug superiority in Mendes’ treatment of them over the other couples they encounter. The New York Times stated that they “inhabit no recognizable American social reality.” I would argue that viewing each of the film’s vignettes as glimpses into any kind of reality is an unproductive way to read this film. Keep in mind, reality isn’t a huge priority for the guy who just directed Romeo & Juliet vs. The Living Dead.

Think of Verona and Burt as Dante traversing a sort of parental Inferno. Each couple they encounter presents us with our fears made flesh, the various ways we could fail our children. Callousness, disillusionment, fanaticism, the unknown terrors of decay and changing emotions, they all take on a mythological tone as we watch these parents-to-be struggle not only to define a future for their child geographically, but morally, spiritually and with a sense of permanence.

This is an unplanned pregnancy for a couple that, like so many in my generation, have not steered their lives toward a paradigm of adulthood (see obvious companion piece Revolutionary Road, might as well be one of the vignettes). Away We Go is a metamorphosis of lovers into parents; or at the very least, we see them clarify in thought the parents they wish to be.

I could better argue that if I had more space, but I’m already too long for a blog. Catch me in person for more. To sum up, stop hating on Sam. He’s one of the good ones.

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About Ryan Denmark

Ryan is the writer and director of Romeo and Juliet vs. The Living Dead, and will be visiting Edinburgh for the first time at the Festival. He'll be blogging about his experiences each day of the Festival.

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