Away we goThis is a film that I've been processing for a while. It, at its heart, is a funny, mostly sweet film, about a couple looking for a home for their child to be. The lead performances are charming and sweet, and entertain through most of the film.
The film plays as an oddessey. As an awful review by Toby Young pointed out (I will not give it the dignity of a link), it does not follow normal film telling rules. It meanders from story to story, presenting different styles of parenting, each one some kind of caricature. For the most part, when these are comedic, this works, but the film is.. a little surprising.
There are four encounters in total. The first two involve awful, and amusing people. The very first encounter is excellent, and hilarious. The second involves a little bit of a tired encounter, with Maggie Gyllenhaal playing a ludicrous earth mother style woman. Strangely, despite her being a gigantic ludicrous caricature, when the normally placid man finally snaps and shouts at them, I ended up feeling for Gyllenhaal rather than our leads.... She is a little patronising, but is hardly utterly awful. Oh well.
Next stop they go to a family which has literally escaped from the catalogue of wonderful families. This is an utterly surreal scene after the previous two, to the point where you assume the parents are going to show themselves to be awful. Instead you discover the reason they have adopted is because of their failure to give birth naturally. In the previous scene the leads declare that they are going to live in this city, but on discovering that their friend's lives are not utterly perfect (and they are pretty absurdly good), they bugger off. Lovely...
Finally we go to see a character who's wife has walked out in him on his own, leaving him to look after this child. Tonally again, its quite the shift. Its more underplayed than the previous encounter, and as such works a bit better, but still makes the film feel a little clunky.
This is a strange little film, that feels like it might have worked much better as a play. Its certainly funny in places, but doesn't always succeed when it attempts to be more dramatic.