Last Days
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Gus Van Sant
with Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Green, Nicole Vicius, Ricky Jay, Ryan Orion, Kim Gordon, Adam Friberg, Andy Friberg, Thadeus A Thomas, Harmony Korine
release US 22.Jul.05, UK 2.Sep.05
05/US HBO Films 1h37

Here we are now, entertain us: Pitt

pitt haas argento

Cannes Film Fest

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Last Days Van Sant continues the meandering style he used on the annoying Gerry and the brilliant Elephant. This combines the best and worst of those films--examining a real life event with an intriguingly inventive structure that's also both aimlessness and pretentious.

Blake (Pitt) is a Kurt Cobain-like rocker who just wants to be left alone. But there are hangers-on everywhere, including right in his rural house, and everyone wants something from him. So he wanders in the woods, hides in out-of-the-way rooms, plays a bit of music when finds some time alone, and sneaks into a gig at a local club. But nothing works, and eventually enough is enough.

Describing the plot, it feels almost linear, but the scenes drift quietly without much dialog, unfolding out of sequence, overlapping and repeating like an overplayed tune on the radio. Just when Blake thinks he's found some solace, someone pops up to ask him something. There's even a private eye (Jay) poking around. Not to mention a pair of Mormons (the Fridbergs) and a Yellow Pages salesman (Thomas). Van Sant maintains an improvised, naturalistic tone that feels both bracingly real and almost fable-like in its soul searching. Like his previous two films, he uses cleverly orchestrated, remarkably long takes that simply observe the action ... or lack thereof.

Pitt holds the film together with a very tricky performance. His face is obscured by a blond mop of hair and often viewed from a distance or through a window, but Pitt's physicality works perfectly in this character. Blake's yearning for inner peace is the core of the film. Unfortunately, he's so dazed and out of it that there's virtually no emotional resonance. Everything seems so pointless--like an extremely arty friend's painfully dull holiday home video. We watch because we keep hoping something will convince us it's worth the time. But even though there are flashes of genius here and there, it never quite manages to come together in a meaningful way. And if it's all about the emptiness of celebrity, it's not something particularly original, is it?

cert 15 themes, language, violence 2.Jun.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall