The Last Days of The World (Japan, 2011)

While racing to catch a late screening of Eiji Uchida”s Last Days of The World (2011), based on a Naoki Yamamoto manga of the same name, my brain began forming an image of the movie I would be seeing. Advertised as a “garage band riff on Donnie Darko (2001)“, the film was preparing me for something akin to previous NYAFF fare like Yoshihiro Nakamura”s Fish Story (2009) or Sion Sono”s Love Exposure (2008).  However, although Uchida”s film does belong in the general vicinity of the disaffected youth genre, it is far removed from the ribald humor and kinetic action scenes found in those two contemporary masterpieces.

Kanou (Jyonmon Pe) is a typical high school junior: apathetic, hateful of authority and constantly thinking about sex. His home life consists of an unemployed father who is constantly busy going to job interviews and a mother who vacillates from perky optimism when around her repairman lover and crippling depression when forced to serve her loser husband his dinner. Within this context, it is no wonder that when a student videographer asks him about his high school career, Kanou”s deadpan response is “I feel like shit.” The statement is neither shocking or original, yet this acknowledgement of a universal emotion that all high school students must feel is the spark from which Kanou”s psychosis springs forth.

Although played for laughs, Kanou begins to see crazy lilliputian devil-men, believes inanimate objects like TVs and radios are speaking directly to him  and starts taking orders from a talking black dog who warns him that the end of nbso online casino reviews days is soon approaching. At first I didn”t quite know what to make of this plot development. Was Kanou crazy or merely the only self-aware character in a very insane world? No matter the answer I went along for the road trip, reminiscent of Terence Malick”s Badlands (1973), where we are witness to Kanou indulging in kinky sex, cosplay and matter-of-fact bursts of violence.

Though initially capturing perfectly the boredom and ennui in everyday life, Last Days of The World soon loses alot of its narrative steam by the middle of the second act, of which watching becomes a very difficult chore to endure. Beyond the humor of an inexperienced boy using mayonnaise as lube or a psychotic detective playing Russian roulette with his partner”s gun, Uchida”s film plays at pushing the boundaries of good taste, but backs down before anything daring or exciting can really occur.

Even the final act, located at a cosplay commune, is neither shocking or profound. The Charles Manson-esque leader of the troupe brings Kanou into his flock of sad sack hipsters and gives him a platform to finally speak.  But, the only thing the boy can do is shout and scream at his audience. Of all the people that Kanou meets and interacts with, the only one who speaks any sort of truth is the high school girl he kidnaps and rapes. She sees Kanou for what he is: a miserable loner with no experience of what the real world has to offer. Jyonmon Pe should be commended for his subtle portrayal of a confused and violent youth, but the air of hopelessness that permeates every frame of Uchida”s film began to grate on me and eventually even I was beginning to wish for the end of the world.