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Everything Must Go

Year: 2010
Production Co: Temple Hill Entertainment
Director: Dan Rush
Writer: Dan Rush/Raymond Carver
Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena, Stephen Root, Laura Dern

Will Ferrell goes serious again like he did in Stranger Than Fiction, which means he keeps the mugging to a minimum and shows us a sensitive side that's mostly effective even if it's no massive stretch for him.

For whatever reason, I've grown up to love the idea of continually de-cluttering my life. When I look at the way most people live I think I'm in a minority, but maybe all the crap we surround ourselves with drives everyone crazy, it's just that most of us have so little time to do anything about it.

As such, I loved the premise and it was the reason I wanted to see the movie. As Buddha said, you can't truly know yourself until you have nothing left. And there's no better way to realise how superfluous most of the possessions in your life are than when they're all spread across your front lawn.

That's what average guy Nick (Ferrell) finds the day he loses his job and comes home to find his wife's left him, changed the locks, left everything of his on the lawn, emptied their accounts and switched off his mobile phone service.

Whether it's out of a strong, silent determination or because he simply has no other choice, Nick sets up a little shelter for himself right in the middle of the grass, his clothes and furniture around him while his curious and worried neighbours look on, all too polite to say anything.

His past problems come out courtesy of a subplot about cop Michael Pena, who turns out to be his AA sponsor. He also makes tentative friendships with the pretty, pregnant young wife who moves in across the street (Hall) and a young black kid who rides his bike around the neighbourhood while his mother takes care of an elderly local nearby.

Nick soon hits upon the idea of posing the whole thing as a yard sale to get rid of it all, which brings him closer to the kid and gives him some perspective on what he thinks Samantha from across the road faces.

His alcoholism doesn't undergo any Hollywood transformation, and the movie not only goes to some dark places but (happily) and avoids a schmaltzy happy ending in favour of a hopeful one.

Ferrell does this kind of thing well, making you wonder if he might not turn in a great dramatic performance one day. Hall is as girl-next-door gorgeous as ever and while it's all middle of the road, never getting too soul-crushing or making you want to dance on the ceiling with joy, it has a pleasantness that's welcoming.

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