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4:44 Last Day On Earth
USA 2011
Directed by Abel Ferrara
Running time 85 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars


A title like this film's would usually indicate a big budget SFX movie but instead we get a low budget drama set almost entirely indoors. Whereas the former can fill in the time with lots of CGI, Ferrara’s type of film relies on a strong script, which is one thing that it hasn’t got. Instead it is a muddled blend of soft-core erotica, found footage and protracted breast-beating.

Willem Dafoe plays Cisco, apparently an actor, who has shacked up with painter Skye (Shanyn Leigh) in a NYC loft after leaving his wife and adult daughter. With a few hours left to live what do you do? Well, first off. a shag is order. Then as Skye gets on with pouring out her anxiety on some large expressionist paintings Cisco attempts to wrest some meaning out of the obvious injustice of the end of the world happening during his lifetime.

Writer/director Ferrar ekes out the scenario with footage of Al Gore, the Dalai Lama, some self-styled New Age guru and miscellaneous TV newscasts and has Cisco use the internet to connect with various absent significant others (which include Dafoe’s own father, William) all of whom, oddly, are online and webcam ready (indeed, other than some dude throwing himself off a balcony the world at large seems remarkably matter-of-fact about its demise).  The rest of the time Cisco talks to himself, yells at passing strangers and generally makes a hash of his last few hours.

I’ll watch Dafoe (who also starred in Ferrara's 2007 film, Go Go Tales) in just about anything but even I got sick of his carryings-on here. Except for a full-on outburst in the later part of the film Leigh (Ferrara’s real-life partner) has little to do other than make her paintings (which are actually by  Spencer Sweeney) which are probably the best thing about this film. Whilst 4:44 Last Day On Earth  always looks good thanks to Ken Kelsch’s photography, it doesn't make up for the fact that there isn't really anything for an audience to invest in with the characters and ultimately this comes down to Ferrara's script which doesn't manage to make anything interesting out of its apocalyptic event.

FYI: For those interested in things apocalyptic, Lars Von Trier captured the end-of-days spirit so much better in Melancholia and David Mackenzie the interpersonal drama so much better in Perfect Sense, both which came out the same year.

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