This week, I’ve taken a look at the melancholic elements in Lorene Scafaria’s indie drama, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). For anyone who has already seen this film, you may be wondering how it even qualifies as something melancholic with its quirky and romantic-comedy themes. While it’s true that such themes run rampant throughout the film, I do believe that they aid in a different kind of sadness — one in which the audience hopelessly sympathizes with the main characters. Coinciding these themes, Scafaria uses graphic or violent scenes in order to bring the audience back to the reality of the dire situation. Scafaria alternates and often even combines such themes and scenes, challenging the audience to view this film with mixed feelings — wherein lies the melancholic elements of the film.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World opens with a radio broadcast announcing that efforts to stop the seventy-mile-wide asteroid hurling towards Earth have failed, and that there will only be three weeks until impact and ultimately the end of the world. Dodge (Steve Carell) and his wife Linda (Nancy Carell) are silently driving at night as they listen to the broadcast. The broadcaster goes on to say that they will continue up-to-date coverage of their “countdown to the ‘End of Days’” alongside playing “classic rock favorites.” Dodge comments how he thinks they’ve missed the exit, which subsequently causes Linda to flee from the car without a single word.
This bizarre opening scene is extremely significant because it sets the overall tone of the rest of the film. The contrast of the broadcaster casually speaking of the approaching end of the human race versus Dodge’s subdued shock that causes his wife to run away is one of many strange moments that tampers with the emotions of the audience.