4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)

Abel Ferrara’s 33rd film, rated 4.4 on IMDB, with good reason. It’s a low-key drama depicting the last day on earth for a bohemian couple in New York City. She is an artist, he is an actor. She paints and is into buddhism. He’s an ex-junkie, has a daughter from a previous relationship, still hasn’t kicked the habit.

What this seems to be is a way for Ferrara to make very personal pieces about his own life, which is riddled with drugs and emotional turmoil amidst the gritty chaos of New York city. Dafoe plays an ex-junkie who is desperately trying to hide the fact that all he wants to do is get his heroin fix. Newcomer Shanyn Leigh plays a painter who is seriously into her craft, working on at least three different pieces throughout the length of the film. She watches conferences on Buddhism and brings its symbolism into her work.

Cisco (Willem Dafoe)

Skye (Shanyn Leigh)

This is a film about two characters who have their own ideas of the world already mapped out. They are closed off to everybody even each other. What they share is merely the same physical space. They have no psychic connection or any other kind of collaborative endeavor. It’s sad to think that they are in love with each other because the time they spend together seems to be wasted on misunderstandings.

This seems to be Ferrara’s own story. Parties, music, addictions, and a vague idea of an artistic life. If anything it’s a cautionary tale against drug consumption. But at this point who is still watching? The world has ended, his world has ended… But he is still holding on … to nothing. Although it may seem like something…

I always look forward to a new Ferrara. He’s an instinctive, and that’s hard to come by these days. If anything can be said about this film is that the weight of his own pitfalls have started to dawn on him. Here he is at his most naked and open. If all we can see is a broken skeleton, then at least is one of someone who has truly lived. No excuses.

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Categories: Notes

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