A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie focuses on a musician's depressed final days, and he shoots himself at the end, in a sequence featuring images recalling Kurt Cobain's suicide (based on widely circulated police and press photos). Characters use drugs, drink, smoke, and curse casually and frequently (including the "f--k"). The movie contains some sexual imagery and references (a girl in her underwear, two young men having sex, two girls dancing, a male character wearing a slip), and sexual slang. A young man urinates into a river (his back to the camera), carries a shotgun through his house, and passes out more than once. He also appears as a ghost, nude, emerging from and ascending from the corpse of his unhappy self.
What's the story?
Blake (Michael Pitt), who leads a famous alternative rock band, struggles to deal with his newfound fame and fortune. Fresh out of a rehab center, he makes his way through the woods to his Pacific Northwest home. Here his bandmates, Luke (Lukas Haas) and Scott (Scott Green) sleep, party, and impress their girlfriends, Asia (Asia Argento) and Nicole (Nicole Vicius). They try not to have to deal with Blake, who wanders around the house and grounds with his guitar and a shotgun. Blake descends into himself, trying to decide how to escape.
Is it any good?
A mediation on sadness, desire, and lack of direction, LAST DAYS seems almost to stretch out its minutes. Its rhythms are deliberate, its images lyrical (courtesy of superb cinematographer Harris Savides), its mood alternately somber and droll. While the film moves slowly, its subject is strangely urgent, for you know from the start that this is Gus Van's Sant's much anticipated interpretation of Kurt Cobain's suicide. And so you know that the vulnerable, mumbling Blake will soon be dead. It's only a matter of time.
And yet the film is less depressing than quietly romantic, more emotionally elusive than morally judgmental. For some viewers, this approach to the legendary Cobain will be frustrating, even boring. But it is of a piece with Gus Van Sant's previous two films, Gerry (two young men lost in a desert) and Elephant (inspired by the Columbine High School shootings). That is, its lack of plot and lovely long takes and gently mobile frames reflect Blake's internal state, as he is increasingly dislocated from what appears a generic "rock musician's" existence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this film's representation of depression and celebrity. While Blake is surely feeling isolated and despondent, his friends and associates are unable or unwilling to take his depression seriously. How is Blake's melancholy represented in allusive, even poetic, images? How does the film show his rejection of commercial interests, as embodied by other characters, like his manager, bandmates, or hangers-on?
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