Home » Review ‘Last Words’: Cinema After the End of the World

Review ‘Last Words’: Cinema After the End of the World

by Stewart Cole

This new film, directed by Jonathan Nossiter and adapted by Nossiter from a novel by Santiago Amigorena, begins, with the phrase of Sun Ra, after the end of the world. Addressing the camera directly, a young man named Kal (played by Kalipha Touray in his feature-length debut) informs us that it is 2086 and that he has a story to tell “about the end of humanity”. But he soon despairs: “I have nothing to say.”

It continues anyway. An ecological catastrophe, during which much of Europe is submerged by water, has trapped the ignorant generation of Cal. Wandering in the ruins of Paris with his pregnant sister. They are located on celluloid film wheels, originating from Cineteca di Bologna. Inspired, Cal goes on a pilgrimage.

In Bologna, he finds a gray character – played by Nick Nolte, an old teacher in this department – who protects a movie archive and maintains a bicycle and crank projector. (In this world, electrical outlets are a thing of the past.) After meeting each other – the two men make a batch of 35mm film together, a process we go through the least indifferent steps – the two heads to Athens looking for other survivors of the revelation .

There they find characters. Some are ridiculous, others retire. They are played by people like Stellan Skarsgard and Charlotte Rampling, both spectators in Nossiter’s short filmography.

The character of Cal and Nolte shows films in a population shrinking among ancient ruins. This creates some evocative images, as well as some movies that Cal is making with this new stock. Name the setting “Cinema Purgatorio”. The depiction of the age of the film – in particular, the age as it affects the stars of the cinema – has real power. This goes beyond his apparent message, conveyed by Cal: “We live and die from the stories we tell each other.” The strongest statement that ends up making “Last Words” is that we die no matter what.

Last words
It is not graded. In English, Mandinka and French, with subtitles. Performance duration: 2 hours 6 minutes. In cinemas and available for rent or purchase Apple TV, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators.

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