As a fan of Mark Duplass I jumped at the opportunity to see Safety Not Guaranteed. However, I was not prepared for the movie. The movie is a curious and dark story of a man with a dream of time travel, however the dream is more than he bargained for. Since he sees the mission is dangerous, his thought is to bring in a person to offer backup. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a general interest magazine that picks up the story and tries to capitalize on the oddity of it.
As mentioned before, I was a fan of Mark Duplass, knowing his work mainly from the League; which is phenomenal. However, that is not how you should think of him coming into this film. He and his brother Jay are small movie makers making the kind of unique and complex stories that create genres. The only other movie I saw of his was Cyrus, though I didn’t have any idea who he was at the time, and frankly, to this day, I am still unsure of whether or not I liked it. The distributor had marketed it so poorly, I went in expecting something completely different. What you need to understand about the Duplass brothers is that they will take on a standard plot idea and tear it apart.
In Safety Not Guaranteed, the plot is driven by the kind of relationships. Note: this paragraph contains some spoilers, but does not give away the ending or even the climax. Main reporter, Jeff, comes to find the story to try to reconnect with High School love. Arnau, the Indian intern, is taken to the bar for a fling, though it is ambiguous what goes on. Kenneth wants to go back in time to deal with a lost High School love. Darius wants to find love and her mother. Darius and Kenneth fall in love. However, love is very complicated in this world.
The movie plays with emotions and obsession. From those who think that Kenneth is out of his mind to Kenneth himself who is so sure, the emotional barometer is Darius who is trying to figure out things herself.
The movie is beautifully shot and acted. The dialogue is mostly improvised and the script is merely a progression. Listening to the WTF interview of Mark Duplass, you can really feel his uncertainty in the movie. There is something very innocent and enjoyable about this movie even if it makes you uncomfortable. The only point of disagreement between my fellow watchers and I was whether we liked the ending. I indeed did.