turns out there really are little grey aliens out there. The
X-Files had them perfectly pegged physically, but the rest of their nature
has yet to be determined. They are
coming though. A motley assortment of
Italians await their anticipated arrival during the planet’s final pre-contact
days in Gian Alfonso Pacinotti’s deceptively spoilerishly titled The Last Man on Earth (trailer here), which screens as
part of the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival.
Bertacci is a miserable man leading a depressing life. The anti-social bingo parlor waiter has
issues with women, but he is not too fond of men either. Perhaps logically, his only friend (strictly
platonic) is a transvestite prostitute.
Still, there are understandable reasons for his emotional deep
freeze. Despite his long nurtured
resentments, he finds himself pining for Anna Luini, a pretty neighbor across
the rest of the world, Bertacci tries not to think about the aliens, so he is
rather surprised to find his elderly father cohabitating with an early
arriver. It seems to be a chaste
relationship, but her presence invigorates the old man. Bertacci even starts talking to Luini. It isn’t pretty, but it is a beginning. Unfortunately, mistakes in their private
lives might have rather cosmic implications as first contact approaches.
is hardly a typical sci-fi action protagonist.
Rather than I Am Legend, think
of him more like the guy in the “if you were the last man on Earth”
expression. Still, the aliens really are
coming, which serves as an amusing Rorschach for various characters’
neuroses. During the opening credits,
one radio talk show caller even expresses concern for the impact on small
market football teams. In a way, Last is like two (or perhaps one and a
half) decidedly oddball love stories, connected by unrestrained existential
kid-friendly space opera, Last lurches
into some pretty ominous places, but Gabriele Spinelli solidly anchors it all
as Bertacci. While sympathetic, there is
clearly something off about the waiter that is never fixed with a neat
psychological contrivance. Frankly, it
is pretty engrossing just watching the dysfunctional gears turning in his
head. Though she only has one really heavy
scene, Anna Bellato is a dynamic presence as her namesake, while the makeup
obscured Sara Rosa Losilla’s weirdly awkward body language perfectly suits the
A distinctive work of cerebral social science
fiction, Last would make a good
double feature with Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial,
which also screens at SIFF this year.
Of course, Pacinotti’s film would definitely be the darker half. Yet, the comic artist (a.k.a. Gipi) turned director
never allows the angst to overwhelm the story.
Recommended for discerning genre fans, Last Man on Earth screens today (5/25), Monday (5/28), and Thursday
(5/31) during SIFF.
Labels: Italian Cinema, Sci-Fi films, SIFF '12