It’s not supposed to be about Kurt Cobain. Gus Van Sant’s (Elephant, My Own Private Idaho) “Last Days” is a story about a fictional character that closely resembles Cobain and the last few days of his life. We’re supposed to believe it is similar to “8 Mile,” in which Eminem plays a semi-autobiographical character nicknamed Rabbit. Kurt Cobain is not in this movie, though. His family is not affiliated with the movie, nor are the surviving members of his band, Nirvana.
There is something eerie about the fact that someone wrote a screenplay about Kurt Cobain’s suicide, but changed names. Michael Pitt plays “Blake,” the lead role who looks like Kurt and sings similarly. The wardrobe team clearly went out of their way to design outfits for the dirty grunge boy that are strikingly similar to Kurt’s attire – Nirvana trite. Big sunglasses, Elmer Fudd hats. Shotgun, heroin.
The script, if there even was one was extremely lacking due to the fact that 99% of what Blake uttered was in this mumbling, inaudible murmur. Halfway through I turned the captions on and I could read the things he said, but they weren’t that interesting. The entire movie is this sad, ethereal documentation of a sick man’s decline. We watch him stumble around, settling into his suicide. It isn’t the sort of sad that makes you want to cry, it’s something akin to seeing a train-wreck. You can’t stop staring, secretly wondering if you’ll catch a glimpse of blood in some detached, voyeuristic dread and longing.
The rest cast was fine, I guess because it could have been anyone. It was based mostly on regular people coming in the house to do regular things. A bunch of kids running in and out, apparently Blake’s friends, although he barely interacts with them at all. In fact, the most interaction between Blake and the other characters is when he is lying slumped in a heroin-induced stupor against a door another character happens to open.
He falls on her and she simply props him up and closes the door again. I believe these actors were all called by their own first names, more like extras than actors. Could have been anyone. Although, I will say Thaddeus Thomas did a swell job playing a Yellow Pages salesman, his real life profession.
The cinematography seemed sleepy and random at times, but all in all basically showcased at every vantage point how much Michael Pitt looks like Kurt Cobain. Put him in a dirty shirt, longish dirty blonde hair, unshaven, cigarette, hair in face, big sunglasses, and there you go! Grunge Rocker pre-fab Halloween costume in a big plastic bag, $39.99. We see Blake sitting in front of a campfire, Blake stumbling around outside, Blake wandering around inside, Blake slumped in a room, Blake making macaroni and cheese, all practically silent. He mumbles constantly, which becomes not only annoying, but pathetic and whiny.
The random shots consist of grass and trees that go on far too long, creating an uncomfortable sensation, which may have been the point. Then there is this scene where the camera is about 20 feet outside a window of the house, looking in at Blake as he crashes his way from drums to guitar while the most hideous screaming sound loops at an off-beat, making the entire thing sound like noise.
Very poorly planned noise. I realize it was done for emotional purposes and insight into the main character, but it could have been done so much better. And of course, most of us know what happens in the end, and if you think they made it anything spectacular, you’re wrong. If you see it and you think what they did was spectacular, you’re bored. Or…boring.
Another problem: many of the conversations (of which there are few) in this movie are the types one normally blocks out or zones out in the midst of. I know they’re supposed to have some deep connection and meaning to Blake’s upcoming suicide with the foreshadowing and such, but they’re just boring and obvious and I am really sick of Kurt Cobain being compared to Jesus. What a wacko thing to say/think, but perhaps this film was funded in part by the religious cult that sprung up in oh, April of 1994 that holds Kurt Cobain up as their messiah. They didn’t get the point.
In my opinion, this movie has no point. It is a boring, meandering depiction of something really sick: the last 3 days of a depressed heroin addict’s lonely, crippled life. To make a movie of that is…I mean, it’s not like he did anything spectacular in those final days. He did some drugs, wrote a note, smoked cigarettes, wandered around and avoided social contact. It wasn’t sad when he shot himself because he was at a plateau of depressed emotion the entire length of the movie that did not seem to fall or rise at any particular point.
We didn’t see any good times, just him being too thin and dirty and clearly miserable in his own body. The only tinge of emotion I felt for his life was when he went into his daughter’s room, examined one of her tiny shoes, and then held a kitten and said “I’m sorry” under his breath. And when I say tinge, I mean the smallest tinge imaginable.
So, see this movie if you are bored and depressed and don’t have anything better to do with your sad, sad life. If you look for entertainment or any feeling at all from a film, don’t bother.