Thursday, August 28, 2008

Last Life in the Universe review

Kenji, (Tadanobu Asano) a suicidal Japanese librarian in Thailand lives an indifferent life, consistently stopped from entering what he expects to be a blissful death. Unfazed by a series of tragic events and drawn to a Thai woman (Sinitta Boonyasak) who appears to be his complete opposite, things begin to slowly change for the two as they connect with one another.

The Good?
The atmosphere. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang creates a dream-like atmosphere with solid Christopher Doyle cinematography and a subtle, captivating score. It’s a perfect stylistic choice to put us in the mind of these characters aimlessly floating through life, their minds constantly pre-occupied with life and death.

The characters are very unique and likeable. Tadanobu Asano puts in a great performance as the obsessive-compulsive Kenji that earns our sympathy very early on with his understandable state of mind explained by interior monologues.

Sinitta Boonyasak also puts in a good performance as a snarky, rude woman dealing with tough emotional problems. They have a lovely relationship filled with many not-your-average-relationship moments that set it apart and show subtle chemistry.

The Bad?
The film’s plot sometimes doesn’t particularly exist. Character may wander and laze around for long periods of time without any real action pushing them to develop. It works thematically, but also gets a little slow.

Occasionally, the woman, Noi has some character problems. It isn’t as easy to empathize with her because the film doesn’t set up her other relationships and background information. It’s hard to believe her reactions at times because we don’t know enough about her without the luxury of internal monologues.


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