2 October 2005 | come2whereimfrom
Blake or bleak?
Last days This is the final instalment of Gus van sant's trilogy of the disenfranchised and the alienated human condition. It began with 'Gerry' dealing with two guys trapped in a desert with no way of finding civilisation again and continued with 'elephant' dealing loosely with the columbine school killings. Last days is loosely based on the life of Kurt Cobain the late nirvana singer. Last days is really gelephant a mix of the first two films. Similar themes like repetition and the same story told from different characters perspectives are lifted straight out of elephant and the endless, hopeless tracking shots of despair are taken out of Gerry. Here the main character Blake is lost, unlike the two central characters in Gerry who are lost in the desert without hope, Blake is lost in his own head seemingly without hope. We meet Blake in the title of the film, his last days, being destroyed by drugs (although we never see him take anything harder than a cigarette) and emotional vampires who pretend to be his friends sucking the life out of him coupled with the pressure of fame and impending 86 date tours, Blake is quite simply falling apart. Here though it is a beautifully subtle take on madness, gone are the visions you see in films like 'Jacobs ladder' replaced with a clever underscore of sounds of doors opening and closing and mutterings and oddities. It's as if as you travel round with Blake you too can here the doors of insanity opening in his head, you too struggle to make out all the sounds. It's gently handled but eerily effective in linking you in with Blake's mindset. Elsewhere he stumbles and crawls round trying to function in the face of increasing paranoia and his drug addled inability to perform even the simplest of tasks. With record executives, band members, his manager and a private investigator all on his trail doing little for his state of mind Blake only seems comfortable when making music. This is also the only thing he can do with any sense of achievement, this could be down to the fact that it is second nature or the fact that he is a musical genius. The film also has an amazing sense of space, the landscapes around the mansion, the emptiness of its rooms and the vacuous nature of the hangers on to Blake's coat tails. With some amazing scenes, look out for the Venus in furs scene and the amazingly shot and framed acoustic song performed by Blake in the studio with probably one of the best little pieces of improvisation I've ever seen, this is a brilliant and touching portrayal of a great man left to fall to pieces by those who should have helped him stay together. Although different in its approach it deals with madness in a way not seen since Polanski's 'repulsion' and ultimately it is a film that stays with you long after the final chilling shot.