Thursday, September 16, 2021

Review: ‘How It Ends’ Is a Delightful Comedic Take on the End of the World [SXSW Online 2021]

How It Ends is a delightfully comedic look at one person’s final day on Earth written, produced, and directed by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones (who also stars as protagonist Liza).

On the last day on Earth, one woman goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way.

With just one day left to live, Liza decides to confront her bucket list of people she still needs to settle scores with, visiting with her father (Bradley Whitford), mother (Helen Hunt), an old friend (Olivia Wilde), a horrible ex-boyfriend (Lamorne Morris), and the ex she still loves (Logan Marshall-Green). She spends her day running into a myriad of unique characters in addition to her planned encounters, giving the film a light and almost peaceful overtone despite the fact an Earth destroying asteroid is hitting at 2 a.m. With a star studded cast it’s no surprise that every box ticked on Liza’s list allows her to regain a sense of self and brings the viewer right along with her in those emotions.

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Liza is joined on her journey by a metaphysical younger self portrayed beautifully by Cailee Spaeny. She’s there to spur the adult Liza on whenever she doesn’t feel she can handle the coming conversations that her younger self knows she needs. Young Liza is the catalyst behind every interaction as the older Liza is content to watch the world pass by alone (her original plan was to get high and eat until she puked). Spaeny’s energetic performance is the perfect complement to Lister-Jones’ quieter Liza, the two playing off one another in harmony making the moments of them walking the empty streets together feel peaceful and reflective rather than like awkward interludes.

Where most end of world films feel panicked and urgent, How It Ends is a bittersweet and idyllic vision of the final day where everyone is content to spend their time in their own homes or on a personal journey of their own. We see some of those moments as Liza encounters strangers, one returning to her roots as a busker and singing a calming song in the streets to no one. The emotional journey of Liza does grab you early on as she’s constantly telling her younger self “you don’t count” while facing the prospects of dying alone (literally). Even when the two have a disagreement on that very topic, the message of self acceptance and self love will hit you like a brick. Liza is on a journey to inner peace and part of that path is to love herself wholly. For a movie made in 2020, the height of isolation from others, Liza’s ability to find connection with complete strangers and reconnect with herself is a resounding message I think many can relate to and need to hear right now.

Check out the rest of our SXSW Online 2021 coverage here!

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Brianna
Brianna works full time in the publishing industry, passionately building books to bring to the masses. Her first fandom was Harry Potter, which she joined at age 11. Her love for books took her abroad to earn her Masters Degree at University College London, after which she lived in New York City, and now resides in Austin. She loves all things fandom including Supernatural, Doctor Who, and more. Ever the introvert, she can usually be found reading, playing with her dog, listening to music and practicing yoga. Brianna joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2018 where she unites her love for all things "nerd" with her passion for writing. Find her on Twitter here: @bookbag09

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