Stellan Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling and others are watching movies at the end of the world in a drama that sees climate change and Netflix as symptoms of the same disease.
It’s weird to watch a movie that he really (and almost literally) thinks he will never see. A film that was written, funded and shot with the deep conviction that it would eventually be released in great silence. a film that is not only peaceful in its non-commercial nature, but also consciously draws its power from the prior knowledge that it is destined to disappear into the vast ocean of flow content, not to be thrown into the water so much that it is scattered on its surface like ashes. A post-apocalyptic heart cry suggesting that the death of cinema and the end of human civilization are two sides of the same coin, Jonathan Nossiter’s confusing but vivid elegiac “Last Words” (adapted from Santiago Amigorena’s novel “Mes Derniers Mots”) offers an end . -The global mourning for the natural beauty that we handed over to consumerism and for the common experiences we lost in the name of personal convenience.
On a more basic level, Nossiter’s film offers two hours of watching an extremely gray Nick Nolte play the last projector on Earth: a former director who left Hollywood during the fall of America (which apparently happens in the 2030s or ’40), was renamed Shakespeare and moved to an underground shelter somewhere in Europe where he could spend his days watching manual screens of “Tampopo” and “Sherlock Jr.” in peace. Alas, as Shakespeare tells us, and anyone who reads it already knows: “Watching movies with strangers has always been the best way.”
Fortunately for Shakespeare, a stranger is going to accompany him to the darkness of his underground cinema, but do not assume that “Last Words” is heading to the “Cinema Paradiso” area. This is a purely conceptual work, more numb than narrative, and Nossiter – a part-time director and full-time farmer who intends to reduce his losses and spend the rest of his life in agriculture – is in no mood for easy feeling. “Last Words” shines a certain light on the magic of cinema, I guess, but we know from the beginning that darkness wins in the end.
To put it in simpler language than the film itself ever does: “Last Words” sees the transition from celluloid to digital and movie theaters as streaming as an indication that our society is irreversibly fraying. A more focused version of what Nossiter is doing here may require us to enjoy it in a packed room full of other cinephiles. as it is, the most painful thing about saying goodbye to it without the plot in the frames is that the few people who will bother to rent it in VOD will do it alone, half bored and fully aware of the absence now that comes when they watch a movie together . . Somehow, the climax of “Sullivan’s Journeys” – all those poor souls laughing alongside a simple cartoon – is even more bittersweet when you watch it alone.
In “Last Words”, the last people on Earth are squeezed under the stars and see the last roll of Preston Sturges masterpiece as Shakespeare projects it on the walls of an ancient Greek temple (where the sound comes from is everyone’s guess, but this is not is the kind of movie that encourages you to sweat logistics). The year is 2085, Africa is underwater, the rest of the world is a ruin and the small handful of survivors have formed a utopian community in the desert once known as Europe. No one there has high hopes for the resurgence of humanity – the garden crops they cultivate are poisoned, the only pregnant woman is a voluptuous 75-year-old Charlotte Rampling, and most people are so prepared to eat synthetic foods that the very idea of food seems to miss them – but everyone seems quite happy enjoying some old movies while they wait for the end.
And we know the end is near, because the young Nossiter narrator is talking to us two years into the future, where he is the last living person (Cal is played by Gambian refugee Kalipha Touray, quietly winning his first role on screen). “Not special,” he points out, “only the last.” Anyway, the opening minutes of “Last Words” tease a more traditional view of Armageddon time than the one we finally have. Set in the ruins of Paris – crystal clear cinematography and rich production planning that help highlight all the effort and artistry put into this deadly movie rattle – the first chapter in Nossiter’s story recounts how Cal crossed with Shay. It’s not long before the suspense of these first “Children of Men” flavors gives way to something completely different, as the two men decide to start a small underground movie club and then trolley the equipment. their. the Tilda Swinton-style continent in search of a community to share it with. The one they find and remain rather trouble-free until the disappearance is inhabited by a combination of naked extras, character actors such as Alba Rohrwacher and Stellan Skarsård, and anyone else who still has some time to kill.
“Last Words” is diluted into a boring confusion of the new age when our boys are welcomed to the hippie shelter that will become their last home, as the barbaric flashbacks melt into sharp thoughts about the purpose of art (“We must invent something between birth and death “, Shakespeare’s muses) and the value of continuing to make it and present it at the end of the world. hobby as a documentary resident of the community.
The team builds a camera and at one point even builds its own celluloid to keep Cal shooting (the digital world has been wiped out by ecological disasters and cinema survives only as a natural mechanism). Like “Last Words” itself, Cal’s film is conceived as a time capsule for future generations or any future life forms trying to tell the story of the Earth with the help of its enduring relics, but also as a reminder to the people around it. that he is still alive. It is a fact that these survivors have to confirm for each other, something they do with the night screenings of all kinds, from “Un Chien Andalou” to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The images of these flickering old movies warm up Cal’s new friends with a flash in the camp, content less important than the experience of enjoying it together. By the time they got to Sullivan’s Travels, I could only imagine how wasteful it was that comedy became the first genre to hit theaters.
Nossiter believes that the stories themselves have a distant second from the primitive act of telling them, which is another reason why “Last Words” is so eager to exchange emotion for something like “Hugo” (a masterpiece! ) with a slow cinematic groove that feels like you are seeing the end of the world in real time. The resulting sad film is full of fleeting moments of pleasure and pleasure, but also amorphous in a way that makes Kit an avatar for his director, and the two men roll their cameras at sunset because they do not know what else to do. their despair. Again, Shakespeare is an equally powerful mouthpiece for Nossiter. “I came here to dream of the beauty of cinema before I die,” he grunts at one point, and “Last Words” is nothing but the work of someone who lives this dream with his eyes wide open.
Grade: C +
Gravitas Ventures will release “Last Words” in theaters and on VOD on Friday, December 17th.
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