Jesse Eisenberg has never been content to limit himself to acting, frequently pursuing other creative outlets such as writing plays and prose fiction. But when he came up with the idea for “When You Finish Saving the World,” his upcoming directorial debut starring Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard, he knew it was finally time to make his own film.
“All of my plays take place in a living room,” Eisenberg said in an interview with IndieWire during the Sundance Film Festival. “This one couldn’t, because I wanted to show what it looks like inside a domestic violence shelter to show the complexity of working in the social services sector. And all of that stuff seemed to lend itself to what I thought an original movie could be.”
That led him to direct the film himself, and it’s about to hit theaters a year after it premiered at Sundance. The official synopsis for “When You Finish Saving the World” reads: “Evelyn and her oblivious son Ziggy seek out replacements for each other as Evelyn desperately tries to parent an unassuming teenager at her shelter, while Ziggy fumbles through his pursuit of a brilliant young woman at school.”
In his Sundance review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that “’When You Finish Saving the World’ never pretends that’s going to end well, as Evelyn’s overbearing interest in Kyle is even more obviously doomed than Ziggy’s obsession with Lila. But as funny as it can be to watch these characters step on rakes in slow-motion, and as brutal as it always is to hear them stab at their own kin across the dinner table (‘You were gonna be one of the good ones’ is the sort of thing a mom can’t un-say to her son), even this film’s most wince-inducing moments are ultimately in service to reframing the way that Ziggy and Evelyn think of each other. While the staccato punctuation and ‘everything is embarrassing’ teen energy of Eisenberg’s debut might anticipate a version of ‘Lady Bird’ as told from Kyle Scheible’s POV, the movie we actually get is less about growing up than it is about holding on — it’s the story of Ziggy and Evelyn learning to make space for themselves in their relationships with other people, and to make space for other people in their relationships with themselves.”
Cinetic Media will release “When You Finish Saving the World” in select theaters on January 20, 2023. Watch the trailer below.