Last Days Review
After the remarkable artistic achievement of Elephant, it would be easy to dismiss Gus Van Sant's Last Days as little more than a postscript to that film. Offering neither the psychological intensity nor the potent social commentary of that film, Last Days offers little more than a committed performance by Michael Pitt and a series of interesting moments that never seem to gel into a purpose. The film's underlying problem comes though in the two songs written by Michael Pitt that he performs in the movie. They sound enough like Kurt Cobain without mimicking him exactly, and they are fine pieces of work all on their own. The problem is that neither of those songs are as interesting or as confessional or as interesting as "All Apologies" and "I Hate Myself and Want to Die." The film seems to be saying that we can never know why somebody would kill themselves. Elephant offered no "answer" as to why anyone would commit a Columbine-like massacre, but it served up all the major touchstones and allowed viewers to read what they wanted from the film. The same can be said of this film, that the director offers no answers but allows the viewers to decide. Perhaps the problem is that the suicide of a rock star seems to be a psychological issue, something very singular, where a school shooting seems more sociological. Last Days needed more immediacy to work as well as it could have. Cobain's music had that immediacy, making the real life story so much more interesting than this fine but flawed film.