When You Finish Saving the World (2022) – Movie Review | Jimmy at Sundance | Jesse Eisenberg

Servus Freunde, my name is Jimmy Cage and 
right now I’m at the Sundance Film Festival.  
At least digitally from the comfort of my 
living room. In the next days and probably  
weeks I want to share my thoughts about a lot of 
brand-new films that I will watch at the festival.  
I’m pretty excited about this, because it’s 
my first time attending. The reviews will be a  
little bit shorter and more in the vein of first 
impressions and overall thoughts. The first film  
that I have watched is the American comedy drama 
the directorial debut by Jesse Eisenberg. It’s 
based on his own audio drama of the same name,  
which he now adapted for the big screen. It stars 
Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard as mother and son  
and this film has a really peculiar vibe, that 
I honestly, totally dug. Knowing Jesse Eisenberg  
through his now twenty-year-long acting career I 
would say, that this film definitely feels like  
him. It has a certain neurotic, awkward feel 
and energy to it. A certain cringey nature,  
that’s definitely intended and I found it to be 
really funny. It’s only 90 minutes long and it  
doesn’t want to tell

a big or particularly 
important story, yet our protagonists think  
they are quite big and important in what they do. 
And in some regard they are, but then they are  
also pretty full of themselves and as the title 
suggests, it’s also about the pretty arrogant  
notion that our little actions are about saving 
the world. When our real intentions are much more  
about stroking our own ego. Both lead characters 
are pretty narcissistic and the movie quite nicely  
juxtaposes these two members of a fairly 
dysfunctional family. They are different  
and yet they are pretty similar as well. The 
film alternates both storylines. We follow Finn  
Wolfhard’s Ziggy, a young teenager who composes 
and sings these pretty shallow folk pop songs,  
that somehow got him an online following of about 
20.000 people. Something he’s very proud of. But  
when he falls for someone who’s very interested 
in politics, he has to face how little he knows  
about stuff like that. Yet this conflict never 
goes that deep and the movie keeps this sweet  
satirical touch. It doesn’t really want to 
make these characters particularly likable.  
They are pretty much full of shit and that’s kind 
of refreshing. Julianne Moore’s Evelyn, Ziggy’s  
mother, is the head of a women’s shelter. So she’s 
definitely doing something positive. But she also  
wants to form a young teenager, the son of a woman 
who just got there, according to what she thinks  
is best for him. And her interest in him also goes 
a little bit deeper anyway. Again, it’s a strange  
little film. Jesse Eisenberg alternates these two 
plot lines, which are bouncing off of each other  
but also always becoming one again. Because 
it’s a family after all and Ziggy and Evelyn are  
living under the same roof. And so is Roger, 
the husband to Evelyn and father to Ziggy,  
who’s kind of a funny person himself, because the 
situation is just so bizarre. Living with these  
two narcissists. In one of the most poignant 
moments, they are both coming home after they  
have completely forgotten about something that 
was quite important for him. WHEN YOU FINISH  
SAVING THE WORLD has a nice dynamic between the 
characters. The dialogue is very sharp, it has  
great comedic timing and both Julianne Moore and 
Finn Wolfhard are really fantastic in their roles.  
Eisenberg is also able to bring a nice aesthetic 
to his first film. The images have this grainy and  
kind of “overcast” look. I also really enjoyed the 
use of classical music. But most of all I was just  
really on the movie’s wavelength when it comes 
to the humor and sweet awkwardness. There’s for  
example this moment when Evelyn is waiting for an 
elevator and she begins a little conversation with  
one of her employees. She wants to make small 
talk but because she’s also just really odd,  
her employee is afraid that she is about to get 
fired. And very understandably. WHEN YOU FINISH  
SAVING THE WORLD isn’t a super complex, deep 
or masterfully crafted film, but I think it’s  
a pretty nice and somewhat sweet debut feature 
and the more I think about it, the more I found  
myself being charmed by it. It was certainly 
a really nice start into the festival for me.  
of 10. It’s more like 7.2 but I don’t do that.
You can hit me up, on Twitter, Instagram and 
Letterboxd – and also on Patreon – simply at  
The Jimmy Cage. And if you enjoyed this 
episode, please give me a thumbs up,  
share, subscribe – whatever you like. And make 
sure you hit that bell, for all I have to tell!

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