By Benjamin Gummery.
Safety Not Guaranteed is the big screen debut from American director Colin Trevorrow & writer Derek Connoly (both currently at the helm of the new Jurassic Park sequel ‘Jurassic World’) and stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass & Jake Johnson. Producers Peter Saraf and Mark Turtletaub were also involved with 2006 indie hit ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.
The film centres around a magazine reporter Jeff(Jake Johnson) who spots a potential story when finding a classified ad seeking a time-travelling companion with the tag-line ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. With the help of his two interns (Aubrey Plaza/Karan Soni) Jeff tracks down the writer of the ad Kenneth Calloway (Duplass); who is working as a clerk at a local convenience store. Kenneth is paranoid to the nth degree and therefore the team opt to use intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) to pose as a respondent to the advert and help her to ingratiate herself with Kenneth.
Part comedy, part thriller (with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in for good measure) the screenplay is incredibly warm, compelling and well paced. This is a great example of a ‘high on content – low on frills’ independent film; shot for around $750,000 and is executed brilliantly. Duplass’s performance is incredibly believable; managing to capture the instability of Kenneth while at the same time not exaggerating it and this is well matched by the confident, sassy yet naive character created by Aubrey Plaza as Darius.
Whilst not an action packed thriller, sci-fi hit or laugh out loud comedy; the direction has us questioning whether Kenneth is a paranoid schizophrenic or quiet genius throughout and the screenplay and characters suck you in. Highly recommended and one of the true gems of 2012.
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