When You Finish Saving The World (2022)
Writer/director Jesse Eisenberg wanted the audience to do one thing: feel. He accomplished that in abundance.
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Above all else, this film made me feel.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a mental health clinician by trade, but watching Evelyn (Julianne Moore) break so many professional and ethical boundaries, made me physically cringe. In the case of a movie experience, feeling is a wonderful thing. I want to believe that’s precisely what writer/director Jesse Eisenberg wanted the audience to do: feel.
Evelyn is the owner/operator/therapist at a women’s shelter for domestic violence victims. To these women and children, Evelyn probably seems like she has her life together. As viewers, we are privy to behind-the-scenes. We get the real pieces of her life:
Evelyn drinking nightly.
Evelyn’s uncomfortable social interactions with others. A “casual” conversation with her receptionist, for instance, became so strained and hard to decipher, that the receptionist’s response was, “Am I being fired?” No, she wasn’t. Evelyn just didn’t seem to know how to make small talk.
The most glaring example, however, was within her own family dynamic. The relationship with her husband Roger (Jay O. Sanders) and son Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) was the core of this film.
During an admission of her newest family, Evelyn meets Angie (Eleanore Hendricks) and her son Kyle (Billy Bryk). Evelyn sees something in Kyle that draws her to him. Whether it was his nurturance towards his mom or some other characteristic, she started to give more time, energy, and patience to Kyle than her own son Ziggy. This was amplified as we witnessed more interactions between Evelyn and Ziggy.
Ziggy is a live-streamer who plays guitar for his loyal viewership of 20k (he never misses an opportunity to remind his classmates and family about that number). Ziggy seems a bit socially awkward, probably due to being a byproduct of parents who have their own social miscues.
Ziggy becomes infatuated with his classmate Lila (Alisha Boe) who is socially and politically outspoken. Ziggy has several cringe-worthy exchanges with her in this film due to his lack interpersonal skills and insight. As a viewer, someone rooting for the success of your main characters, you’ll want to shout at the screen in hopes it’ll steer them in the right direction.
“When You Finish Saving The World” is analogous to life, because no matter how much you wish for others to do better, the decision to do so rests solely with them.
This is a film worth watching.
“When You Finish Saving The World” is available in limited theater release 1/20/23.