Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Last Life in the Universe directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang with cinematography by Christopher Doyle (of Wong Kar Wai fame, one of the best cinematographers working in world cinema).

There’s two nights left to see this brooding, stunning, perplexing film which opened last Friday at the Nuart and closes Thursday, finite, oh so abbreviated the span, not even enough time to savor, to grasp the sense, clutch the skin, comprehend the smells, the tactile-soft wonderment, the falling.

The purely subjective theme spew
Isolation, futility, beauty, the macabre, an affirmation of something unclear yet wholly recognizable. Perhaps the perfect film to see alone, as I did, because its core is about how we’re inarticulate, trapped within the mossy confines of our bedraggled skulls and dormant hearts.

This film adheres to the newest, perhaps most welcomed film genres, that of the Finite Love Drama… promulgated by Before Sunrise, hammered in by Lost In Translation, coffin nailed by this one. You see, all loves are finite. They all end badly, either in revulsion or death. There are no happy endings, just endings loose and open and frayed and uneven.

Japanese man in Thailand is miserable and regimented… suicidal in his own very special way (he’s screaming silently to be heard, to be warmed). Craziness, coincidence, fucked up (thus funny) violence. The deadpan deaths. Then love fleeting. Any more would really detract and I’m not here to proffer interpretations to soil your own… Just see it.

See it. It’s shot so well. The visual plane suffuses the protagonist's encounters and habits and ache with such crisp immediacy and beauty.

And then
You’re in a room full of people, sharing something, some audio-visual, projected spectacle of uncertain bliss, of familiar mundanity and ache with escaping gusts of solace. You watch the credits roll, heart throbbing, head not ready to reconcile the assault of images and open-endedness. Attributing meaning is cliché. Incorporating feeling, senses, somber senses, letting it do, it being this film, letting it do what it does, wickedly, terribly, so foreign, so familiar. Drive home alone and hope to fucking god there’s whisky in the cupboard.


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