Sam Mendes started his feature directorial career with American Beauty, an incisive look at suburban malaise that in addition to netting multiple Oscar nominations, earned him a reputation for being a keen if not altogether optimistic observer of human nature. Ten years later he's virtually cemented that pessimistic point of view with films like Jarhead, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road, all chronicles of characters desperately in search of something, if not better, than at least different than what they already have. But while his latest film, Away We Go, uses a couple's road trip as yet another journey of self-discovery, Mendes looks at the central characters' future with one another with optimism and genuine hope, offering a reassuring rejoinder that the director does not in fact believe that all relationships are destined to fail.

Cinematical recently sat down with Mendes to discuss Away We Go, an intimate but broadly appealing comedy about two lovers, Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph), who embark on a road trip to figure out where they want to raise a family, if not also determine what kind of family they want that to be. In addition to talking about his own feelings – cinematically and otherwise – about the prospect of living happily ever after, Mendes discussed the process of helping his co-stars get comfortable with one another, and ruminated on making a movie for the first time that's unfettered to the expectations of an awards season.