4:44 Last Day on Earth

4:44 Last Day on Earth ★★★★

A cool companion piece to Melancholia (which maybe I watched a month too late :S), as it's basically the antithesis to that film in its dealing with the apocalypse. Where von Trier's film was beautiful, majestic and timeless this film is minimalist and anchored in the today, where contact with our loved ones occurs through technology as much as it does in person (both modes are juxtaposed quite effectively) and the end of the world is a result of current fears (this is a weak aspect though - I personally don't doubt for a second the validity of the science behind climate change, but this film literally has a newsreader say "Al Gore was right"). There are a couple other weaknesses where the low budget shows through - the dream/apocalypse montages look pretty cheapjack with stock riot and northern lights footage, and a few extras or bit players are pretty unconvincing, especially up against what is a great performance by Willem Dafoe, who I imagine was central in getting this project off the ground. Where this film triumphs is in its portrayal of people coming to terms with their impending doom, and how you would spend the last hours on earth in a refreshingly unromanticised way - people will think of being intoxicated, having sex and of course, seeing what everyone else is doing. The tone of this film does nail the feeling of waiting, of the anger and confusion and terror of what it would be like. Some of the logistics don't add up (newsreaders quit to be with families, but policemen and taxi drivers don't, etc) but the essence of what something like this would be like on the intimate, personal level is captured very effectively. A massively underseen film that's really quite special.