“Seeking A Friend For The End of the
If you’re a Christian, you aren’t
surprised to hear talk about the coming Apocalypse.
In fact, the last book of our Bible has that word in it.
Even a mild familiarity with the teachings of Jesus recalls a
considerable emphasis on “eschatology,” or teachings about the last
things. Jesus says “Watch, no one
knows the day or hour.” Jesus says,
“The time is coming at an hour which you do not expect.”
All of chapters 24-26 of the Gospel of Matthew deal with “the end
times.” The idea is that it is a
matter of urgency to embrace the faith, even if it doesn’t appear that the
end of the world is going to happen very soon.
Or even the end of your particular time living in it.
Ah, but what if the time was, indeed,
very short? What if a giant asteroid
was going to hit earth in exactly three weeks, and there was nothing that
could be done to stop it? Isn’t that
how all the dinosaurs perished?
Steve Carrell plays Dodge, a Mr.
Everyman who’s kind of a sad sack, really. He’s
sitting in the car listening on the radio to the announcement that NASA’s
last attempt to stop the giant, hurtling asteroid has failed.
That means the end is inevitable. His
wife, upon hearing this, simply gets out of the car and runs away.
And Dodge sits and watches her. Doesn’t
even call after her. Doesn’t try to
pursue her, either.
He goes home to his high-rise apartment
New York City
. He even reports for duty at work, for
an insurance company, where he’s still trying to answer the phone about
catastrophe policies. Of course, just
about everybody else has left. They’re
literally giving away the office of CFO to anyone who wants it.
Nobody does. Why bother?
Dodge accepts the invitation of friends
to a dinner party, but people are already starting to act weird.
Yes, they’re breaking out the good cigars and the expensive wine, but
they’re also trying heroin. And
they’re casually coupling with each other, as if all the social restraints
are now abandoned. May as well eat and
drink, for tomorrow we die.
But Dodge doesn’t feel that
overindulgence is really going to help him any.
Or seeking some kind of drug-induced oblivion.
Or casual sex, even. He’s not
sure what he wants, but whatever it is, it has to feel genuine to him.
He can’t believe the cleaning lady keeps coming.
At first he tries to tell her to forget it, but when that obviously
hurts her feelings, he relents, and assures her that she can come back next
week, which seems to satisfy her tremendously.
As if taking comfort from familiar routine and surroundings, even if in
a position of servitude.
Dodge is idly playing a harmonica when a
young woman appears at the window of his fire escape, weeping.
She’s obviously British. She’s
just as obviously distraught. It seems
she’s missed the last flight to see her family, and broken up with the
boyfriend whose attentions were meaningless, anyway.
So now Penny (Keira Knightley) and Dodge, along with an abandoned dog,
find themselves helping each other to make a connection:
Penny with her family, and Dodge with an old high school girlfriend.
Anything with meaning or significance, please, while the looters
rampage the streets, and society is rapidly breaking down, and the
survivalists are digging in their bomb shelters,
and civilization teeters on the brink of
Sure, they’re an unlikely couple.
But the tenderness they finally develop for each other will put a lump
in your throat. As if here, right at
the end, they both finally find what they’ve been seeking all along, but
didn’t know it. Isn’t it ironic?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,