Copyright 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
The Last Day (Le Dernier jour)


            Of all the films I saw at the 2005 NewFest, I have to rank this one
    as something of a disappointment.
THE LAST DAY (LE DERNIER
   JOUR)
contains some fine performances, but writer-director Rodolphe
    Marconi’s drama about family secrets tended to meander a bit.

            Art student Simon (Gaspard Ulliel) is on his way home for Christmas
    vacation when he encounters a stranger on the train. Louise (Mélanie
    Laurent) asks him for a cigarette and soon is sharing his compartment.
    Before he knows it, she is accompanying him to his parents’ seaside
    cottage for the holidays.

            Louise’s presence does nothing to cut the tension at the seaside
    cottage. Simon’s sister Alice (Alysson Paradis) is surly and resentful of
    his presence. His father (Christophe Malavoy) barely acknowledges him.
    Only his mother Marie (Nicole Garcia) seems genuinely happy to see him.

            Simon reconnects with Mathieu (newcomer Thibault Vinçon) and
    there are hints that the pair have shared something in the past, but it
    isn’t clearly articulated in the film. Louise complicates their relationship
    by favoring Mathieu, despite sleeping platonically with Simon.

            Meanwhile, Marie is dealing with the return of ex-lover (Bruno
    Todeschini) who appears to want to rekindle their affair. He also brings
    some disturbing news that calls into question a lot of Marie’s
    preconceived notions.

    The plot tagline at the
Internet Movie Database reads “a man's return
    home is offset by his unrequited love for another man,” yet the
    relationship between Simon and Mathieu only sparks in one scene:
    after a night of drinking, Louise kisses both men and then tells them
    to kiss one another and Mathieu responds by planting a passionate
    one on Simon. Other than that, the two only speak of the past and
    how their relationship has changed, yet they don’t really spell out what
    the relationship was. Indeed, Simon appears to be falling in love with
    Louise and he’s jealous of her relationship with Mathieu.

            The film’s twist is a doozy, one that makes perfect sense in
    hindsight, but Marconi takes so long getting to the reveal that interest
    wanes. His direction veers wildly from extraneous shots of characters
    driving down deserted roads (often at night) to a bizarre intercutting of
    scenes of Marie with her lover and Simon swimming laps.

            I realize that not every movie shown at a film festival is going to be
    superlative, but given the high quality of the other films I’d seen at this
    year’s NewFest, I was less than impressed with
THE LAST DAY.

        
                                        Rating:                        C

        Viewed at NewFest 2005 at the Loews State Theater
www.newfest.org