Sadie Mitchell is a 16-year-old who struggles with anxiety, which reaches crippling levels after a school project in which she learns that the end of the world is near. She spends her days alternating between stockpiling for the apocalypse and trying to salvage her friendship with former best friend Brennan. When she forms an unlikely friendship with doting schoolmate Jack, who finds her idiosyncrasies quirky as opposed to neurotic, what starts out as the road to regained happiness quickly descends into total teenage torment.
Michael Seater’s script is really smart, often too smart. While brimming with wit and sardonic humour delivered in rapid fire dialogue, the overall tone of Sadie’s Last Days on Earth is a bit too self aware. The characters come off almost a bit smug, as if to say ‘look at us, we’re so quirky and weird it’s cool’. While Seater’s target audience might proudly see reflections of themselves in Sadie and the cast, let’s take a moment to acknowledge that most teenagers are simply not that profound.
Sadie’s Last Days on Earth can be a fun viewing experience, but clearly targeting a very specific demographic. While teen angst transcends many age groups in contemporary cinema, the specific references and conversational cadences will leave some puzzling. To those on the outside looking in, the film is like Noah Baumbach meets a meme machine.
Seater directs a strong cast, Sadie’s Last Days on Earth is a who’s who of faces from Canadian television. Morgan Taylor Campbell is terrific as Sadie, giving the character a certain naturalness amidst so many emphasized eccentricities. Paula Brancati produces and has a supporting role in the film as Connie, a high school teacher/friend of Sadie’s who’s deteriorating marriage provides the basis for several important life lessons. Connie is the primary ‘adult’ in the film as Sadie’s parents are written more like a weak afterthought. While it seems to make sense for Sadie and Connie to form a friendship, there is a certain awkwardness about the presence of Connie’s character that takes some time for the audience to get used to.
Overall Sadie’s Last Days on Earth is an energetic film with a well-paced story and a well selected cast to drive the plot, but it’s not going to appeal to everyone.