#SUNDANCE: “WHEN YOU FINISH SAVING THE WORLD”
By David Baldwin
Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) is a high school student who performs original Folk tunes online for his worldwide audience of 20,000 people. His overbearing mother Evelyn (Oscar-winner Julianne Moore) runs a shelter for domestic abuse survivors. Despite the greatness of their shared memories, they do not get along and only interact in passing. With Ziggy’s time taken-up trying to become more politically savvy to impress a girl, Evelyn takes to one of the shelter’s new residents who reminds her of Ziggy, and who she desperately wants to help succeed in the future.
First-time Writer/Director Jesse Eisenberg (yes, it is who you are thinking of) adapts his award-winning Audible Original podcast to mixed effect here. It has dashes of humour sprinkled throughout, and a well-composed look that shows how much Eisenberg has learned from his contemporaries over his two plus decades of acting. The characters feel lived in and the performances from just about everyone are good, with Wolfhard standing in as an obvious avatar for his Director (even down to his inflections and mannerisms). Where WHEN YOU FINISH SAVING THE WORLD stumbles is in how inconsequential all of Ziggy and Evelyn’s actions feel, and how their narcissistic qualities obscure many of the more interesting things happening in the margins. Why did Eisenberg feel the need to make all of the supporting characters so much more interesting than the two leads? What is he trying to say about these characters and their journeys? I felt like the Film does not answer either of these questions, and just over-convolutes its overarching message and obvious conclusion.
Eisenberg shows promise as a Writer and Director with WHEN YOU FINISH SAVING THE WORLD. I just hope he makes his next project less dry, and have a whole lot more purpose.
WHEN YOU FINISH SAVING THE WORLD screens at Sundance as follows:
PREMIERE Jan 20 7:30PM EST Available Until Jan 20 10:30PM EST
SECOND SCREENING Jan 22 10:00AM EST Available Until Jan 23 10:00AM EST