|Last Days (2005)
Starring: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento
Director: Gus Van Sant
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
Director Gus Van Sant’s latest film “Last Days” will no doubt have Nirvana enthusiasts rushing to the theaters. To all fans of both Cobain and Van Sant, please be advised: stay away, stay far, far away. Unless, of course, you haven’t been sleeping well at night, and then by all means, the eight dollar admission will be well worth the rest. Based on the events that took place during the final three days of Cobain’s life, Van Sant’s experimental film is an unmitigated failure, relying too much on the idea that moviegoers are actually interested in watching the boring existence of a spaced-out rock ‘n roll luminary.
Michael Pitt stars as the fictional Seattle grunge rocker Blake, a man who’s so hopped up on his sudden success that he’s gone a bit mental, though don’t be fooled by the change in name. This is Cobain through and through. Blake wears the same clothes, sports the same look, and even sings exactly like the late musician. And just like Cobain experienced in his final days, Blake is smothered with bottomless phone calls from his band mates urging him to get back on the road, and an accompaniment of drugged-out roadies (including Lukas Haas and Asia Argento) looking to mooch off of his empire. Hell, Blake’s even got a little daughter whom he barely speaks to, so if you’re still confident that this isn’t Cobain, then you’re seriously mistaken.
Van Sant simply couldn’t secure the rights to produce an authorized biopic of the famed musician, and instead of an engaging story focusing on the Cobain that everyone loves, Van Sant delivers this 97-minute expose of the artist walking around mumbling to himself. He sometime stops to make a bowl of Mac ‘n Cheese, or take a dive in the nearby creek, but he just as soon gets back to mumbling again. And despite these many teeth-grinding moments, it gets much worse. The audience is subjected to watching an entire Boyz II Men video, and suffer through a meaningless conversation that is disrupted by the glare on the car windshield. Neither of these examples serve any purpose whatsoever to the narrative, yet Van Sant feels the need to eat up nearly ten minutes of film on just these two instances.
In fact, about the only positive element of the entire film were two standalone long shots of Blake playing music. That, and the end of the film. Both his angry, rock-infused jam and his subtle acoustic poetry offer up some serenity to the giant mind-fuck that Van Sant has created along the way, and it almost makes you believe that the director could have done this right had he really put his heart into the project. Unfortunately, in the end, Van Sant’s out of control glimpse into the final three days of a rock legend will have you feeling like you’ve been watching the film for just as long.