Gus Van Sant's latest artistic endeavor centers on a rock legend named Blake, acted by Michael Pitt (The Dreamers). With his moppy-blonde locks one can hardly see his face.
Last Days chronicles a slow road to death for a grunge rocker inspired by the life of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain who took his life back in 1994. It feels, through imagery and sound design, very subliminal, a piece of lyrical impressionism that will mostly resonate with those into the deeply troubled, yet creative individual.
Blake lives in a Seattle mansion with tags indicating he's on rehab, so he's drugged on and mumbling to himself while wandering around. After a while, the confused, incoherent fellow has to head out to the woods to escape his supposed friends like those played by Asia Argento (XXX) and Lukas Haas (Mars Attacks!).
When he isn't acoustically inclined or whipping up some macaroni and cheese there are some amusing interludes in this wistful account that almost play out in real time. A Yellow-Pages sales rep (Thadeus A. Thomas, a real Yellow-Pages employee) and a record executive, played by Kim Gordon, one of Van Sant's crew assistants turn up. And longtime David Mamet collaborator Ricky Jay has fun as a detective who Blake doesn't hide from, commenting on his fascination with magic and dice.
There's no intent to poke into psychological makeup or rehash tunes from Nirvana as Blake is gradually shutting down, mentally and physically. Van Sant again works some elegiac wonders with tracking lenser Harris Savides, capturing the dreamy notion of someone staring out into space.
Many will perceive Last Days to be much too beleaguered and inviting somnolence, but it can be a strangely hypnotic odyssey of a life of isolation and quiet despair finally transforming onto a new spiritual plane. Pitt goes nicely with this stylish collage of a film experiment that climbs a stairway to heaven without ever being vibrant or deep.