Culture > Movies
François Duhamel/Focus Features

Trying to heal

Movies | Away We Go has the ethos of a post-tradition society

Issue: "2009 Books Issue," July 4, 2009

Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are two ordinary, smart, nice people in love in the new movie Away We Go. Both have workable but not inspiring jobs, share a rented house they don't particularly like, and feel a complete lack of connection to community. A long-time couple, but not married, they find out they're having a baby and suddenly the world changes. They set out to find the right place to raise their child and the people to raise her around.

In a journey that takes them from Phoenix to Montreal to Miami, Burt and Verona find lots of lives they don't want. His parents are the very picture of Boomer self-absorption. Her former boss mistakes crassness for intimacy. His cousin LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal) wraps haughtiness and judgmentalism in a natural-fiber, neo-hippy exterior. LN, a college professor, hates strollers, breast feeds other peoples' babies, and sleeps in a "family bed" with her kids and nonworking husband. Burt and Verona aren't taken in. They just want loving, normal, good people that their daughter can grow up with.

Then the movie (rated R for sexual content and a good deal of swearing) takes a mature turn. The hip, caring, fun family they adore in Montreal is nursing a hurt that, while no one's fault, is hard to bear. The couple struggles with the fact that the right people and family love don't necessarily protect against heartbreak.

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Unfortunately, this realization comes with an absolute rejection of marriage from Verona, although more from her own brokenness than from philosophical reasons. This is very much a Gen X movie. It captures the ethos of people who grew up after tradition and structure were thrown out. Burt and Verona want their child to have more than they have, not materially but in richness of life. Their determination to find it, even in the face of so much loss, reflects a kind of courage.


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