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When You Finish Saving The World (2022 Sundance Film Festival); Grade: B-

Strictly Films welcomes you back to more coverage of this years 2022 Sundance Film Festival! Our next film on the block: When You Finish Saving the World.

When You Finish Saving the World tells a story about a teenage boy named Ziggy (Finn Wolfhard) whom is a big deal online, as he secures 20,000 followers and gets paid to live stream him singing. The songs Ziggy sings are mostly centered towards teens, as the songs are mostly about school, love, girls and such. At Ziggy’s school, Ziggy has a crush on this one girl named Lila (Alisha Boe) whom is heavily into politics and such as you can perhaps say Ziggy is way out of her league. However Ziggy makes a valid attempt to impress her by going to some after school political poetry hour, as he effortlessly tries to get on page with what Lila is into so he can win her heart. Meanwhile Ziggy’s mother Evelyn (Julianne Moore) runs a shelter as she took in a mother and son whom are troubled. Evelyn is quite fascinated by the son, as she sees true potential in the young man, as she hopes to change his life around by persuading him into going to college rather than just work at an auto shop.

When You Finish Saving the World is the directorial debut of Jesse Eisenberg, as he gets a collaboration with A24. I had a fair amount of anticipation for this film as I was curious what might Eisenberg come up with?! I felt for a debut… This was cool.

Here we have a couple characters whom are dealt with a situation at hand. With Evelyn she lost her endured passion as a mother, as the son she hoped she get out of Ziggy when he was little attending protests and such, grew up to be the complete opposite of what Evelyn wanted him to be. Ziggy though you can say is making a nice living performing songs on the internet, Evelyn hoped he would do more than just making bubble gum folk music that doesn’t make a valid impact on the world. So when Evelyn came across this young boy at the shelter: It gave Evelyn a spark in which she can make not only make a difference in this young mans life, but to also treat him as he were his son. Watching Evelyn in this situation can be headache inducing, especially trying to force a child into a position he’s not totally into in the first place. However I believe Evelyn missed that feeling where she could be a mother and impact a child's life, as with Ziggy she perhaps felt she failed as he’s just a regular basic average teenager, so this gave her a chance to get a do over.

With Ziggy he’s going through a simple conflict, where he hopes to catch the eye of a pretty girl at school, but in order for him to do so he would have to be more than just a good looking kid. Lila is quite knowledgable in the political field, as gaining attraction from her is going to take more than just writing a few love songs, like in politics Ziggy has to do the work. Often enough when it comes to youth especially with young guys especially: We try to do the most to impress women, especially in a field we have no interest in whatsoever. So watching Ziggy embarrass himself over and over again with this girl, I felt was quite relatable, especially in a sense getting involved in something we have 0 interest in, but because of being heavily attracted to someone we go through desperate measures that really can produce an outcome of being completely pathetic just cause to win a girl’s heart. I feel Ziggy will gain a lesson out of this situation: That perhaps don’t value your attraction for someone for looks only, as base your attraction for someone you actually have common interest in, because chances even if they did dated they wouldn’t last very long.

I enjoyed the look of this film visually, it’s got a nice grainy style to it. The composed score was quite interesting as well, it almost felt like listening to an end of an arcade style video game where it’s the end of the game. The cast all around was solid as a whole, my only complaint would be Finn Wolfhard. I felt his acting performance was decent, however when came to the singing department… Y I K E S! One can justify his singing by claiming as young adults, we get in over our heads thinking we’re so gifted and talented with music, that we think we’re going to make tons of money and not worry about a damn thing. I can understand that: However since Ziggy is making money because people think he’s good at singing… It’s hard to believe because Wolfhard is dreadful in his singing sequences, it felt like a bad Bo Burnham impression.

Other than Wolfhard’s singing: There’s one moment in the film involving a masturbation scene that was… Ridiculous. Considering the youth of today, I highly doubt one can come across performing this act over something not only they have no interest in, but because who it’s written by they just masturbate just towards the thought of them.

I felt the conclusion capped off nicely. It felt like a heart warming moment towards a parent and child's relationship, suddenly coming to a realization that all they needed was to come back to them rather than finding comfort elsewhere. May not be the greatest debut, but at least it was engaging from start to finish as the material at hand felt meaningful and can be relatable in some way.

Overall, When You Finish Saving the World was decent. I recommend checking this one out, make sure to put on ear plugs while Finn Wolfhard sings is all. -Mitch Smietana

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