Safety Not Guaranteed – Film Review

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

The personal advertisement above sets in motion the plot of one of the coolest films you will ever see, and could justify your Netflix subscription all by itself.

The ad was put into a local paper by loner Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass) and seen by callous journalist Jeff Schwensen (Jake Johnson), who takes a couple of interns in the hope of finding a human interest story. From this the plot splits into two. The primary plot sees the female intern Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza) get closer to Kenneth, partly to find out if he is crazy or not and partly because she is drawn to him. The secondary plot sees Jeff attempt to find a way back to his youth as he tries to bring the other intern Arnau (Karan Soni) out of his shell.

For most of the film it’s unclear if Kenneth is a sweet loner or a dangerous madman. There are times when your heart can’t help but go out to him but these are mixed in with moments you want to scream at Darius to take her car and drive cross-country as fast as she can. It is also unclear whether or not Jeff is a jerk or a good guy who is just seriously down on himself. The film plays with this uncertainty to produce moments of comedy, drama, and emotion to leave the audience guessing and hoping right to the end.

There is not a character in Safety Not Guaranteed who is not in some way damaged. In less talented hands this film could have fallen into the trap of navel gazing. Instead, the conflicts are handled gently and the characters never give in to the sort of annoying emotional whining that blights many films.

Safety Not Guaranteed uses time travel both as a representation of the characters wish to change their past and as a way to introduce elements of the transcendental into the movie. These elements turn a very good film into a truly worthwhile work of art by enabling the viewer to lose themselves so completely in the film that their own life recedes into the background.

Safety Not Guaranteed is possibly the best film to be found on Netflix. If you enjoyed ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’ I can guarantee you will love Safety Not Guaranteed, as both films take a simple story and elevate it into the territory of magical realism.

There are many moments in this film I’m having to hold myself back from describing, but trust me when I say there are scenes in this film that will burn themselves into your consciousness. In a good way.

In case you need further encouragement here is the trailer.

Safety not Guaranteed rating

5 Stars. It’s so good it’s one of our must watch low budget movies.

  • Safety Not Guaranteed Rating

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