Save the Date
There have been a plethora of pictures in the past that tell tales of young romance, of tight bodied but mature teens or twenty-somethings that don’t look nor act that different meeting-cute, falling in love, maybe making it, facing off their first conflict and then moving off into the pseudo-sunset of the film’s closing credits. The truth though is that while this may be the end of the movie, it is rarely the end of the story. In fact the reality is that the second or third such conflict will likely crack the two back in twain where, now newly single, they will likely find someone else to fall for and fight with before moving on again. We are all constantly changing partners, a new one for nearly every number we dance to; such is life.
This, among other things, is the treatise of Save the Date which sets its story sometime within the era of characters lives that we rarely see, about the time that they turn thirty; now neither kids nor parents it showcases the awkward time in-between the teens and true adult years. The five characters that the film focuses on are all flittering around in their lives, living in a literal in-between, their place in life purgatorial: two are waiting for their wedding to finally arrive, one for his education to be over, another for his band to either break big or go bust and the lead, Lizzy Caplan’s character, has uncertainties that mirror each of these three in their own ways.
“Marine animals have the ultimate life, they get to just float around and there’s nowhere they gotta be.”
Though the usual treatment that this topic receives is a critical one here wandering is never completely criticized; Geoffrey Brown and Michael Mohan ( writer and writer/director respectively) can obviously understand their characters plight and thus elicit a lot of pity for them. As someone myself who can also understand their situation I liked seeing this take for a change. That Date, like This is Fourty, chose to centre its subplots around scenes that I am also involved in – in this case Indie Music and Comic art (Jeff Brown being a smelly famous figure in the industry, his works used here to represent Caplan’s character’s) – can only have helped to strengthen this, though I daresay that nearly any youth can relate to one of the plots or people within.
There is one area though in which the film differs rather drastically from my own experience, which is that it puts its focus primarily on the two female characters (even though the writers are all male). Thankfully then the women that they cast are more than up to the task: both Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie are great in their roles; charismatic on their own and containing perfectly complementary chemistry. Their sisterly relationship is the strongest in the film for sure, though it does unfortunately bring to mind an arguably better movie from the same year My Sister’s Sister.
I say “better” because although the theory behind Save the Date is very sound – the story arcs (sloppy as they are) the characters and the settings are all tailored almost specifically for me – the execution often leaves more than a little to be desired. The film’s tone will be familiar to those who see a lot of the film’s that come out of Sundance each year: funny, but not quite a comedy and dramatic but not in the same deep way as a straight drama; it’s like life, only abridged. Personally I find that this type of film often caps out at pleasant, never really able to win me over to any extreme emotional reaction; though that isn’t all that deep cutting a criticism.
Unfortunately though there is one that I have to make: as good as she is Alison Brie isn’t given enough time to flesh her character out, in a strange way none of the supports bar the oddly in shape Martin Starr are; they hit their notes with perfect pitch but because they only have the one (The Husband, The Bride, The Ex and The Dream Guy) they become quite monotonous and so although I did enjoy the journey it was something of a relief when the film came to a close.
Speaking of My Sister’s Sister the ending here will be controversial among the small audience that see’s it, though I’m not sure that it should be. These kind of interpretable endings are also something that I am a fan of when they are done right and for me Save the Date did a god job of its. There is no great mystery here like there is in say Inception – primarily because this isn’t really a plot driven picture and thus I don’t feel that I’ve spoiled anything – but the meaning does still require and reward some further thought. For me the cut to black is telling because it means that the song is over and a new one will soon begin, the record is being flipped. Save The Date is the story of a certain period in its characters life and when that time is over – when they mature, when they grow up – it is over, another story beginning in its place. Perhaps This is Fourty?