(Read this in my publication In Retrospect – Issue 3)
Directed by Dan Rush, Everything Must Go is based on Raymond Carver‘s short story Why Don’t You Dance? The film premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival as well as being shown at the London Film Festival this month along with its release.
The film follows alcoholic Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) who, after being fired from his job, returns home to find all of his belongings sat on the front lawn. His wife has left him, changed the locks and frozen their joint accounts. Nick, with no one else to turn to, sets up his furniture into his own living room in the garden, but his only real focus is on where the money for his next beer will come from.
Although his neighbours disapprove of him living in their view, Nick finds comfort in a pregnant woman, Samantha (Rebecca Hall), who has just moved over the road and whose husband is working away, and a young boy, Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), who, in return for Nick teaching him to play baseball, helps him look after his belongings in the daytime. The film then revolves around these two relationships that Nick manages to find in his sad and complicated situation. Kenny and Samantha now put their efforts into helping Nick to sell all of his belongings, to help him move on from the errors of his past, and to start his life over new without the influence of alcohol.
The story behind Everything Must Go is a truly great one. Ferrell fits his role almost too well, as if this could be how he spends his days when not anchoring the news for San Diego’s Channel 4 News. The film is set over five days, and it is Nick’s progression during these five days that is the focus of the film. We see him through both ups and downs, and find ourselves genuinely feeling for the characters we are presented with.
Whilst we know Ferrell as one of the funniest men on the big screen, this film isn’t a comedy, nor does it set out to be. Everything Must Go is a serious, indie film based around a well-thought out storyline from first-time director Rush. Ferrell still has his amusing side, however. He doesn’t make any jokes, but his addiction with alcohol allows his character to get away with his dim-witted charm. His role here is less comedic than the ones we most know him for and whilst it’s not enough to be classed as a ‘serious’ role, it is one of few roles that can be related to.
Everything Must Go is a contemporary film revolved around true-to-life circumstances and relationships. The film could have done with a few more laughs, but it is a heartwarming story that Ferrell performs a really strong role in. With an amazing soundtrack of folky instrumentals in the background, this is undoubtedly a film worth a few hours of your day.