Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

An asteroid is heading toward Earth, all life will be destroyed in 21 days and people are trying to cram whatever they’ve missed into three weeks. This is the tragicomic premise that opens “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” which opens in screens across the country today, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.

But an audience of close to 500 had a chance to screen the movie last night at Montclair State’s Kasser Theatre in an event sponsored by the Montclair Film Festival, and best of all, there was a talkback with 1999 Montclair State grad Lorene Scafaria, who makes her directorial debut with the film.

MFF co-director Thom Powers, director Lorene Scafaria, MSU president Susan Cole

Wearing a long gauzy flowered dress and chunky bright pink high heels, the poised and cheeky Scafaria, 34, shared some of the secrets of her success. “Just work harder than everyone else,” she said. She added that it’s not hard in Hollywood, because “LA is the laziest town.”

When she begins a script, she added, she always writes the first 30 pages without outlining, in order to hear her characters come alive on the page.

Though Scafaria joked that she has always had a “general obsession with death” and loved end-of-the-world movies, “Seeking a Friend” had its genesis in the aftermath of 9/11. She had just moved to L.A., where she experienced the world-changing events hundreds of miles away from her friends and family.

Eventually, those feeling worked their way into a premise: “What happens when you take forever off the table and you have the largest ticking clock possible.”

The movie is absolutely charming, with tons of laughs and an ending that had me in tears. I’d gladly accompany Scafaria on a road trip to the end of the world — or wherever she wants to take me next.

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