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LAST DAYS

SYNOPSIS:
Rock star Blake (Michael Pitt) leads an isolated life, a victim of his success. His friends are always wanting something from him - money or help with a song. Blake wanders around in his own world, avoiding everyone and everything.

Review by Louise Keller:
A sad and lonely portrait about death, Gus Van Sant's Last Days is almost a voyeuristic experience. Like Van Sant's previous films Elephant and Gerry, the film is improvised and oblique in its approach, using the death of Kurt Cobain as its inspiration and taking an introspective and meditative approach. It feels a bit like a home made movie, with little editing or dialogue and static shots that let us observe and delve into the character's inner thoughts. The melancholy mood is the film's key character, as we meet Blake (Michael Pitt), a rock star totally caught up in his own space. It's as though time is passing in slow motion, and we can almost see Blake thinking. The sounds we hear are those heard by the character - the deafening roar of a waterfall, the sharp crackle of a fire at night.

The first time we see Blake, he cuts a solitary figure, wandering through the woods. He wanders through the extensive grounds and swims in a spring near a waterfall. His messy shoulder-length hair covers much of his face. He makes his way back to a large, rambling stone residence and changes his clothes. He wears a blue wrist band - the kind of plastic identification given at a late night disco - or a hospital. Wearing oversize sunglasses, he jots words into a notebook, mutters out loud, sings as he strums his guitar, cooks and eats standing up. He crouches on the floor and moves on all fours. He topples over. The only time he seems to relate to anything or anyone is when he picks up a tiny kitten that is wandering aimlessly around his bedroom.

Perhaps the most incongruous scene comes when a yellow pages ad salesman knocks at the door, and conducts what would be described as a 'normal' conversation, making no reference whatsoever to the fact that Blake is wearing a black dress. Then we become aware that there are other people in the house, who all want something from him. But Blake is actively avoiding them.

Blake's death is like a gradual petering out of a tormented soul. But because we are constantly kept at arm's length, we never get emotionally involved. There is simply a sense of the tragic. This is a frustrating, yet compelling film, as we watch this lonely and lost character stumbling through his life. Van Sant gives no judgement, simply a window through which we can peek.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LAST DAYS (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Green, Nicole Vicius, Ricky Jay, Ryan Orion, Harmony Korine

PRODUCER: Dany Wolf, Gus Van Sant

DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant

SCRIPT: Gus Van Sant

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Harris Savides

EDITOR: Gus Van Sant

MUSIC: Rodrigo Lopresti

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Art Direction: Tim Grimes

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 8, 2006







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