Director – Abel Ferrara
Writer – Abel Ferrara
Starring – Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh. USA. 1h 24m
I had been looking for this film for some time, I rekindled my love affair with the unusual character that we know as Willem Dafoe when I watched The Hunter (2011) and Antichrist (2009) and remembered how his presence always added a bit of skinny charisma to any film. So I got busy on Amazon and started searching for his back catalogue. 4:44 Last Day on Earth came up and sounded like an amazing spiritual adventure, so it was the top of the list…. but it was strangely hard to find! Anyway I have it now and I’ve watched it and.. I’m not all that impressed.
Set in New York, Cisco (Dafoe), a talented actor and his artistic partner Skye (Leigh) wait for the end of the world in their rooftop apartment. The setting is fairly calm, there a sudden and unexpected suicide by a neighbour and some reports of looting on the news, the tv reports and press coverage is constant and full of evangelists foretelling of the next life and how to prepare for death.
Our ozone is depleted, much quicker than any of us imagined it would be and at 4.44am it’s predicted that cosmic radiation will penetrate the thin layer and wipe out all life on earth. In the meantime Cisco and Skye go about their daily routines, as if on holiday, they order food from a Vietnamese restaurant, giving the delivery boy all their money and allowing him to skype his family, Skye is constantly painting and changes her clothes with each layer, the couple skype their loved ones, Cisco talks to his daughter and her estranged mother, causing an argument, he leave the apartment to visit friends and returns to make up with Skye before the final minutes, were the scientists right, will we survive?
Usually end of the world movies are violent action packed struggles to survive like Armageddon (1998) or with mysterious omens like Knowing (2009). This sentimental take is very passive, points only one grubby finger at humanity as a whole and is very suttle in it’s approach, but this lack of direction makes the film quite boring to be frank. Nothing really happens, none of the things you’d expect to happen, everyone is unusually calm and I was left trying to work out what the point was, if anyone can tell me I’d appreciate it.
There is some convincing acting here, but the characters are weak the plot, what might be considered a plot is weak, I think maybe I just missed something the TV reports reminded me of the early scenes from Day of the Dead (1978)
L: End of the world movies
5S : WIllem Dafoe