Sundance 2021: How It Ends

Do you want to know how it ends? A meteor. That’s how we go. For the people of Earth, that day is today. It’s the last day of Earth, and Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) has been invited to a party. The meteor is the least interesting thing about How It Ends, and its only certainty.

Liza’s initial inclination is to spend her last day alone, getting high and eating cookies. It’s a pretty solid plan, but unfortunately her Younger Self (also named Liza of course) (Cailee Spaeny) vetoes. Plan B involves checking off items on a list of regrets en route to the pre-apocalypse party. On Liza’s list of regrets: exes, former friends, estranged parents. Truth is the theme for the day, and if that doesn’t keep her honest, her Younger Self sure will. Liza and Young Liza hoof it across Los Angeles, encountering a pretty eclectic cast of characters, but most of all bonding with and taking care of each other.

How It Ends is oddly playful for the pre-apocalypse, but as both co-writer-director and its star, Zoe Lister-Jones certainly has the right sort of presence to pull it off. She’s got excellent chemistry with Spaeny, which you’d really sort of have to, or the whole thing would be an utter failure. It’s a fascinating philosophical experiment, to have two versions of the same person interacting with each other so naturally. I loved the relationship between the two, and felt a little jealous of it. I enjoyed laughing with them, eavesdropping on their most intimate conversations, and indulging in a double dose of Lister-Jones’ unique brand of charm.

Frequent collaborators Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein manage to take a quirky premise and ground it with self-aware performances. As the meteor draws ever nearer, we dread it not because of the impending doom of humanity, because it means the movie itself will end, and we’ve been having too much fun to want to say goodbye.

2 thoughts on “Sundance 2021: How It Ends

  1. tubularsock

    Great review, Jay. Tubularsock’s surprise is that our destructive culture is still here! Oh well, Tubularsock can hope for KaaBoom anyway. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch!

    Like

    Reply

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