Abel Ferrara’s new film, 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), is almost considered a chamber drama. Most of the time the film takes place in a Manhattan apartment, but there is a moment when Cisco played by Willem Dafoe leaves his apartment. This is not just an ordinary drama, but also an end of the world kind of drama. Though not like the Hollywood disaster end of the world type film.
When Cisco character leaves his apartment, at one point, there is a cameo of actress Paz De La Huerta. She is most noted for being in Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void (2010) as the sister Linda and in Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control (2009) as The Nude. This could be easily missed, but an interesting tidbit, I thought.
Abel Ferrara is well known for Driller Killer (1975) and Ms. 45 (1981). He also did Bad Lieutenant (1992), the one with Harvey Keitel, which also happens to be one of my favorite movies. Mr. Ferrara has gone from horror exploitation to auteur style dramas, which this film is nothing less.
From the start of this film, the following day at 4:44 a.m. the world will come to an end, and no one will be left. Cisco and Sky (Shanyn Leigh) decide to spend there last day together, in their apartment. Sky is working on a painting while watching some Buddhist teachings on her iPad. Cisco wanders around the apartment while making Skype calls on his iPhone or MacBook.
The other characters in this film are technology and Buddhism. There is an emphasis on the technology and screens that fill their world. The Buddhist religion is heavily represented in the film. This is interesting because Abel Ferara grew up Catholic. In one scene Cisco acts opposite of a computer, with the other character portrayed on Skype. This is done in one shot. What makes this great is the emotion that Willem Dafoe brings out of the character.
Another interesting scene but somewhat strange is when the Chinese delivery boy delivers food and asks to use Skype, but he can barely speak English. He uses the computer to call his family who is on the other side of the world, to say good-bye. The viewer never knows what is being said but still understands what is going on. The question still remains. Why show this scene.
When the end of the world or your life happens, what is really important. Your savings, which you will not be able to spend? Or the relationships you have. This is similarly stated in the film also. Could this be the reason for the delivery boy on Skype?
I find it interesting, in the same year, when this film came out so did Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia (2011). Both of these films are about the end of the world and there is not escaping it. This is opposite of Hollywood end of the world disaster films where humanity still has a chance. These films may be more metaphorical about the end of the world, which would make them more personal. This is the case for Melancholia, which is about Lars’ depression. I am not so sure what this film is about after the first viewing, it will take more viewings and some research to understand this film. While 4:44 Last Day on Earth is a little slow at the beginning, but once it picked up I could not peel my eyes from the screen.