The new film Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes and with a script by local literary it-couple Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, received a gut-punch of a review by A.O. Scott in today's NYT that sounds suspiciously like an indictment of the attitude -- nay, "smug self-regard" -- of the writers themselves. The movie stars Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski as expectant parents traveling around to visit friends and relatives in an effort to choose a place to raise their child, and inevitably passing judgment on each. Scott writes, "even though they express themselves with a measure of diffidence, it's clear that [the couple is] acutely, at times painfully, aware of their special status as uniquely sensitive, caring, smart and cool beings on a planet full of cretins and failures." Scott doesn't exempt director Mendes from criticism, saying, "To observe that they inhabit no recognizable American social reality is only to say that this is a film by Sam Mendes, a literary tourist from Britain who has missed the point every time he has crossed the ocean."
We'll say that we've always respected Eggers' and Vida's work, on and off the page. And perhaps it's the unique struggle of all San Franciscans to remain self-aware and humble -- to accept how outside the larger culture we exist and not to maintain too much of a sense of superiority in the face of America with a capital A. But we digress, and Away We Go isn't a movie about San Franciscans so much as it is about a couple that might just "glow with a modesty" not unlike Eggers' and Vida's own. As A.O. Scott glibly sums up, he doesn't hate the film. "But don't be fooled. This movie does not like you."