Safety Not Guaranteed
It's interesting what some distance and time do to feelings about a film and so when I sat down to watch this film all my preconceptions and the associated hype were gone, and that wasn't great for the film.
I was rather disheartened with the film quite early on as it fell onto a number of Hollywood clichés that I loathe. First there were the overbearing and annoying stock characters with dialogue that doesn't match anything like real people, just characters in Hollywood comedies. One of these characters happened to be the moping, droning female lead who just looks like actresses and characters we've seen in American comedies before and it doesn't stop with her, a number of other characters feel so familiar and overly used, pulled right out of one film and dropped into the next. As it strayed into the traditional Hollywood comedy fare I was pretty much turned off.
The good news is that the film did start to claw back from there, slowly and not entirely, but it does change direction somewhat. It did begin to draw me into the story with the characters, somewhere I should have been from the outset.
The relationship between the leading characters, of the seemingly paranoid misfit who placed the advert and the intern journalist tasked with getting close to him, is one of the main reasons for changing the direction of the film. As their atypical aspects begin to fade and real life characters creep in, I found myself starting to care about them and to get interested in their story. A little later in the film I even felt some excitement and tension as their story developed.
The writer character is another one that irritated me from the beginning, his character is apparently real and living in an adult world and yet is an overbearing, immature, spineless, and completely unbelievable character, playing it more like an angry teen than an adult. There's a terrible scene where he gets the teenagers drunk and the whole section turns rather embarrassing and awkward, almost uncomfortable.
His character gains a reprieve as well as his story thread for his lost love comes to life, the more there's some story for the character, the more interesting and human he becomes. The thread has an interesting path to it, but once it has played out a little the horrible character is back and he returns to being superfluous and stock.
The main story does build well and does create doubt in the minds of the audience. You do start considering what could really be happening with the main character and if he could be speaking the truth about his crazy scheme of time travel. Unfortunately the film seems to answer all those questions quite firmly come the ending.
While that ending does delivers well with layered threads that come together building the tension and excitement, there was a weight to it that was missing, even if you do feel a sudden edge to the story that hadn't been there until this final change in dramatic tone.
I remain unsure of the ending as to whether it points the audience in too much of a certain direction, perhaps not leaving us in enough doubt either way.
The audio track is as forgetful as the characters themselves and while it was offered on 5.1 I can't truthfully say that I felt there was much use of the speakers.
The picture slips up in a couple of shots of non-natural light but overall it was good with some strong locations and use of framing to bring a slightly different style to it.
Yes, not a single one.
Safety Not Guaranteed carries some interesting themes and ideas, of loneliness and that even people who may seem outwardly odd or even crazy, there is a humanity and something to connect with. You could even say that it's about finding someone out there that is your perfect match, no matter how odd you are. You can pick many themes from it, that doesn't mean they are well told or explored here.
There are a few similar films where you believe that the character is insane, or at least a little nuts, but you are slowly turned towards them and the film takes you in a very different direction. This is how Safety Not Guaranteed feels but it isn't as well executed and definitely lacks some edge to it. Instead of getting to me and drawing me into the story it did wash over me more like light entertainment and come the end of the credits I forgot the characters and their story.
Then there's the poor DVD offering that Safety Not Guaranteed is delivered on. With a forgetful audio and absolutely no extras, it is a very disappointing DVD.