Safety Not Guaranteed (M) 85 mins
A genuine newspaper advertisement which asked for putative partners in a time-travel mission - "safety not guaranteed" - to apply to a PO Box number in a small US town, inspired this strange, charming and rather clever indie tale from writer Derek Connolly. In Connolly's imaginings, a writer from a Seattle magazine spots the advert and embarks on a road trip with two interns to track down the time-traveller.
But the paid journo is using the road trip as an excuse to track down his high-school girlfriend, and it's the interns - a depressed college grad (Aubrey Plaza, from the US comedy show Parks and Recreation) and Indian naif Arnau (debutant Karan Soni) - who do the heavy lifting. And so Plaza finds herself befriending the advertiser, Kenneth (Mark Duplass) and is slowly drawn into believing his unusual world. This is also the film's greatest triumph, for the audience will also be slowly persuaded to see everything from Kenneth's perspective. At 85 minutes, it holds the attention and maintains the pace, smoothing off the odd rough plot edge - although I suspect audiences will either love or hate the finale (I didn't much care for it). And it also, during a tender and surprising love scene, features the best cinematic use of a zither since The Third Man.
- Sunday Star Times