Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) Review

Verdict: Perplexing

Intriguing but confusing story, with good acting.


Darius (Aubrey Plaza) interns at a magazine, and finds herself, along with Jeff (Jake Johnson) and Arnau (Karan Soni) going to Ocean View to track down a story. The story: A classified advertisement about a guy looking to find a partner to time travel with. When they get there, it seems as though Darius and Arnau do all the work, while Jeff runs off to find his young love. As Darius tries to uncover the truth behind Kenneth (Mark Duplass), she finds it increasingly hard to make him out. Directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Being an independent film, it definitely has the feel of one. The story progresses at its own pace, and is focused more on character progression. I feel like many of the independent shows I watch produce the common reaction of, ‘what did I just watch?’

The story itself too is very strange, and engages audiences in a game of guesswork as to whether Kenneth is crazy or legit in his mission of time travel. The film switches constantly between portraying him as sane, or insane. As well, the film doesn’t give a lot of information into supporting either, and so the audience is constantly reworking their perception of him.

The acting is quite natural and fits the tone of the film. Plaza does well as an untraditional protagonist, and carries the film well. She gives a great performance and displays raw emotion. Her chemistry with Duplass shows great progression as the movie continues, and it was great to see this development. Duplass does well in his character, and keeps the audience guessing as to his mental state. Johnson and Soni give an average performance, and provide some comic relief to the film.

Though I appreciate that this is an independent film, and therefore stands apart from mainstream movies, it brought me on a roller-coaster of a ride. I was sometimes bored, sometimes intrigued, and sometimes confused. It is definitely an interesting watch, but isn’t for everyone.

The ending, however, was too much for me. It was pretty unexpected (which I guess can be a good thing), but it felt totally detached from the original genre of the film. While it does keep within the trend of what an independent film might do, I felt like it was too much of a let down. The whole movie slowly built up towards this climax which turned out to be not all that exciting.

To sum-up:
PROS: Acting, intrigue
CONS: Ending, slow development

I give this a 7/10.

Have you seen Safety Not Guaranteed? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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