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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Asian > Last Life In The Universe

Last Life In The Universe


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



A man tries to kill himself, but he is just having one of those days where he cannot get done what he is trying to do in Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life In The Universe (2003), a matter-of-fact tale about self-destruction and how nothing seems to go right, even in death.  As Kenji (Asano Tadanobu) makes his first attempt by hanging himself, a very annoying door bell with a loud buzzer interrupts his “rest in peace” and peace in general.  With noise like that, no wonder he’s lost it.


It is a surprise visit by a friend who has a six-pack and annoying good mood to offer.  Kenji postpones his evening plans and his odyssey begins.  Ratanaruang, who co-wrote the film, had already shown what he was capable of with 6ixtynin9 (reviewed elsewhere on this site), but he seems to never totally make it a well-rounded experience.  The hanging-on element is what his films are actually about, but wining it like Woody Allen only works if you are Woody.  The film has some moments, but the film ultimately does not hold together, offering a less satisfying result than his humorous thriller 6ixtynin9.  The laughs are light, but if you are curious, you might get more out of it than this critic.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image was shot by the distinctive cinematographer Christopher Doyle, H.K.S.C., whose more recent credits include Liberty Heights, Made, In The Mood For Love, Hero and The Quiet American.  This work is not bad, but not quite up to those films, nor is the detail as good here as I had hoped for.  Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is better than the 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds as the 5.1 has an EX matrixed signal.  DTS would have been particularly interesting in this case.  Extras include four trailers, including one for this film and one for the first Directors Series box that imitates the famous trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange; something many a film after did for a long time.  There are also weblinks, an interview with the director (from 4/3/2002; runs about 20 minutes) and a stills section of Chris Doyle’s preparation for the film.  A good package for the curious overall, another quality DVD release from Palm.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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