How It Ends

How It Ends
Running time:82 minutes
Director:Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones
Release:Cinema
Release date:20 july 2021
Rating:

Mulder's Review

Is our world now running towards its inexorable end? While a global pandemic has forever changed our way of life and above all alerted us to the very fragility of our lives and our society today, cinema will not stop wanting to reinvent itself and especially to reach a wider audience. While cinemas are all closed in France and only a minority are still closed in the United States, new films continue to be released and above all have shown the adaptation of talented directors to take ownership of the current situation and use it as an important basis for the story.

Such is the case of this fantastic comedy How it ends which deserves to be seen twice as the subject deals with our society with real intelligence and warns us with unbridled humor about the dangers to come as here the total annihilation of the earth by an asteroid. The film's premise presents us with Liza's (Zoe Lister-Jones) last day on earth with a vision of herself as a younger woman embodied by the young and talented actress Cailee Spaeny who goes from meeting to meeting trying to settle scores and express herself to her father as well as to her neighbors and her former boyfriend.

Shot in the midst of a pandemic, the empty streets of Los Angeles add a striking effect to this fantastic comedy in which American society is laid bare and its many imperfections are pointed out. Far from being an American comedy as we see it too often, How it ends is also a metaphor for the passage of time, for the mistakes we make by not wanting to say anything and by holding back. Even if his script is simplistic, we can only notice his excellent dialogues that are always aiming right. In the same way the main duet composed of Zoe Lister-Jones and Cailee Spaeny works wonderfully.

How it ends shows once again that American independent cinema is still able to amaze us, to move us and above all to remind us that life must be lived to the fullest, if not to keep in itself eternal regrets.

How it ends
Written and directed by Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones
Produced by Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein
Starring Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, Lamorne Morris
Music by Ryan Miller
Music Supervisors : Joe Rudge, Blake Jessee
Sound Mixer : Jack Sobo
Re-Recording Mixer : Penny Coghlan
Cinematography: Daryl Wein, Tyler Beus
Edited by Daryl Wein, Libby Cuenin
Additional Editing : Ella Hatamian
Distributed by Mister Lister Films
Release date: January 30, 2021 (Sundance)
Running time: 82 minutes

Seen on January 31, 2021 (Sundance Festival)

Mulder's Mark:

Nicole's Review

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and Liza feels…fine?! Featuring a who’s who of comedic favorites, and shot completely during the quarantine of 2020, How It Ends is a hilarious and poignantly resonant, pre-apocalyptic comedy for our collective ages.

Throughout the movie, Hollywood appears nearly post-apocalyptic in that there are almost no people or cars driving down the normally busy Hollywood streets. It creates a landscape that underscores the theme of aloneness. The filmmakers took full advantage of Hollywood during quarantine. There were some incredible shots that would normally be impossible, shy of shutting down major streets. The directors have a guerilla filmmaking past (Breaking Upwards, Band Aid , Blueprint, Consumed, White Rabbit). For example, Liza and her Younger Self  come upon a woman sitting in the middle of the road playing her guitar and singing. Throughout the entire scene, not one car drives by. She says she wrote a duet, but since Rita passed away, she invites Liza to sing with her. Liza’s YS encourages Liza to sing, reminding her she used to be in band. Liza has her YS do it, eventually joining in herself. Ultimately, this is a story of finding oneself or reconnecting to one’s authentic self, perhaps even suggesting that’s a large part of life’s purpose. Regardless of the serious themes and the gravity of the situation--literally it’s the last day before the earth explodes--the tone is comedic.

Thematically, the movie is pandemic adjacent. According to Co-Director Daryl Wein, the movie was born of lockdown and the accompanying isolation, depression, sadness and even apocalyptic feel of the early months. Although Daryl and Zoe Lister-Jones had previously been co-writers and co-producers, this was their first time co-directing. For the co-lead, they tapped Cailee Spaeny, who Zoe had an intimate working relationship with, from having directed her in The Craft: Legacy. Zoe said making the movie was like a lifeline to a sense of hope and play amidst the pandemic; it was also cathartic for her as a performer, though she wore many hats. Everyone was in  such a raw emotional state, with the world in such an unpredictable state. Zoe said After Hours was a big inspiration for the movie and the irreverent, poignant tone.  Daryl said the movie is really about self acceptance and trying to figure yourself out. 

The film opens with shots of Hollywood cut to whimsical music. A teenager (Cailee Spaeny) drags sleeping Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) out of bed and makes her a Seusically tall stack of pancakes. They discuss the End of the World party, but there’s a problem--they’re out of weed. And Liza’s car has been stolen. They trek, on foot, to the weed store, but they’re sold out. Apparently if the world is going out with a bang, people need their weed. The final customer, weed in hand, invites them to come to his place. They follow him to a tent on a hill. To their shock, he addresses both the girls; no one’s ever seen the younger of the two, since she is Liza’s Younger Self and thus metaphysical. The man explains that he had a younger self, but he lost his footing and fell off a cliff; you truly can be alone, if you choose--perhaps foreshadowing.

As they continue walking through the city, they run into an idyllic guy--cute, holding puppies. The moment is highlighted with music and slow-motion, to capture the feel of the moment; it is the Love of her Life, the one that got away. He asks if she’ll be at the End of the World Party, but she says she prefers to be alone. As they walk on, Liza’s Younger Self calls her out, and she said she panicked; she loved him and messed everything up. She says her whole life is a series of regrets. Her YS convinces her to face those regrets and turn them around.

Of course with any great mission, a girl’s got to get her war paint on. Liza and her Younger Self put their makeup on, looking in the mirror--side by side, a series of coordinated moments, where younger and current versions of Liza are essentially one. They talk of regrets--the ex, Larry,  the mom, and the dad.

They begin their mission, to face Liza’s regrets. As they walk, they encounter Younger Self Manny. He says today everyone can see the Younger Selves, theorizing people may be on a higher level of consciousness, since it’s the final day on Earth. Everyone is remarkably relaxed, considering that the world is about to end.
 
As Liza confronts the people with whom she has great regrets, we encounter many fun cameos. Her dad is played byBradley Whitford (Handmaid’s Tale, The Call of the Wild). Other greats include Whitney Cummings, Nick Kroll, Helen Hunt, Charlie Day and even Pauly Shore.

How it ends
Written and directed by Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones
Produced by Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein 
Starring Zoe Lister-Jones, Cailee Spaeny, Olivia Wilde, Fred Armisen, Helen Hunt, Lamorne Morris
Music by Ryan Miller
Music Supervisors : Joe Rudge, Blake Jessee
Sound Mixer : Jack Sobo
Re-Recording Mixer : Penny Coghlan
Cinematography: Daryl Wein, Tyler Beus
Edited by Daryl Wein, Libby Cuenin
Additional Editing : Ella Hatamian
Distributed by Mister Lister Films
Release date: January 30, 2021 (Sundance), July 20, 2021 (United States)
Running time: 82 minutes

Seen on June 21, 2021 (Tribeca Festival)

Nicole's Mark: