Steve Carell has had one heck of a career, consistently challenging himself to keep himself from getting stuck in one type. He’s gone from the goofy roles of the happy half-wit in Anchorman and the lonely man-child in The 40-Year-Old Virgin to his recent, intense roles in films such as Foxcatcher and The Big Short, all the while being instantly recognizable as the inept but well-meaning Michael Scott of The Office (U.S.) fame. To say this isn’t impressive would be nothing short of a disservice to the man and his hard-earned reputation. Still, between this transition from one of America’s Aughties comedians to being an Academy recognized dramatic actor of the New Tens, Mr. Carell had also played another type of role that I believe to be tragically overlooked – his roles as the quiet man beaten in by life and circumstance.
It’s true that he would dip his toes into this territory during his tenure as Michael Scott, but these moments were always juxtaposed by the zany hijinks that the character would get himself into. So his roles in movies like Little Miss Sunshine, where he plays a jilted gay man on the verge of suicide, and the tired widower of three in Dan in Real Life, Carell is able to explore the depths and nuance of humanity that can’t be found in his other works.
“I think I’m getting my midlife crisis in just under the wire”
This week’s pick, 2012’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, is a dramedy of the same vein as Sunshine and Dan. Carell’s performance is thoughtful and quietly passionate, and the movie is offbeat enough that he doesn’t come off as boring but as sincere. While maybe not his best film, it is an underrated performance worth checking out.
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