Review: When You Finish Saving the World (2022 Sundance Film Festival)

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Title: When You Finish Saving the World
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Jess Eisenberg
Starring: Julianne Moore, Finn Wolfhard, Alisha Boe
Runtime: 1 hr 28 mins

What It Is: Evelyn (Moore) runs a shelter for battered women. She’s a bit of a stiff person though. She doesn’t understand her son Ziggy (Wolfhard) who’s an influencer and musician on a TikTok-like app. Ziggy doesn’t understand…anything stuck in his Gen Z cycle of instant gratification. When he wants to impress a very intelligent girl at school he begins to try to expand his knowledge base. Simultaneously a young man’s arrival at the shelter sparks Evelyn’s motherly instincts.

What We Think: Eisenberg is clearly a rookie director. His eye wanders and never quite stays where it should. His script, crafted from a podcast narrative never does anything to directly address characters’ issues or flaws. It simply presents us with these unlikable shells and for 90 mins tells us to enjoy. We can’t enjoy it because we don’t care. Both characters exhibit behaviors on the outermost extremes of character. This was not an enjoyable experience. It played on the worst stereotypes of the younger generation. It offers no solace for those characters and was far too sloppy.

Our Grade: C-, Passable in the most barebones of ways. You’re either going to find the film mediocre or bad depending on the extent to which you tolerate Moore and Wolfhard. Jay O. Sanders who plays the father feels like a victim here being emotionally held up by two terrible, awful, no good, very bad people. If the film didn’t have fleeting moments and a good Alisha Boe supporting it this whole thing would’ve fallen apart a while ago. Sanders too deserves some credit his performance was far better than I’d seen from him in years. To be fair I hadn’t seen him in years so…there is that. Either way, this is an almost miss and a skip unless you REALLY want to see it.

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