Jesse Eisenberg Proves Himself a Thoughtful Filmmaker in His Debut, When You Finish Saving the World

Nobody uses the term generation gap anymore, but the problems it refers to are eternal—and they’re the core of When You Finish Saving the World, Jesse Eisenberg’s debut as a

writer-director. Finn Wolfhard is Ziggy Katz, a teenage singer-songwriter who’s a mini-sensation in his corner of the internet, cultivating an audience of loyal followers with his

folky songs about youthful love and angst. But his mother Evelyn (Julianne Moore), the harried founder and manager of a women’s shelter, downgrades both his enterprise and his

talents, and his father Roger (Jay O. Sanders) is a checked-out academic type whose nose is always buried in a book or a magazine. The clash between mother and son is particularly

acute: Evelyn just wishes her son were somehow different, in ways she can’t even define. When a particularly smart and sensitive teenager, Billy Bryk’s Kyle, moves into the

shelter with his mother, Evelyn takes him on as a personal project, encouraging him to apply for college scholarships even though he has his sights on being a mechanic, a job he’s

exceptionally good at. Ziggy is so frustrated with his mother that he doesn’t even realize he’s been shunted aside; he’s also distracted by his crush on a schoolmate, Alicia Boe’s

Lila, a budding political activist—she’s a passionate yet plodding spinner of rhetoric, no match for the awkward romantic poet in him. Read more reviews by Stephanie

Zacharek