The Last Days


[a.k.a. Los Ultimos Dias]
Dir: David Pastor + Alex Pastor
Star: Quim Gutierrez, José Coronado, Marta Etura, Leticia Dolera

Trash City
Top 10: 2013
Starting, apparently, with a teenage kid in Canada, a plague sweeps the world. Those who fall victim are unable to go outside: if they do, irresistible panic grips them, leading to heart failure. Everyone is eventually left trapped inside, unable to move around their cities unless they can reach the subterranean tunnels beneath it. In Barcelona, Mark (Gutierrez, surely labelled with one of the more unfortunate forenames in cinematic history) is at work when he becomes infected and communications break down; his girlfriend Julia (Etura) was last seen at home. Forming an uneasy alliance with Enrique (Coronado), a consultant brought in to select employees for termination, he reaches the metro and heads through its passages back to their apartment. When he gets there, he doesn't find Julia, but what he does find, gives his quest a whole new impetus.

What this does, and does really well, is give a sense of how fragile modern society is, and how quickly it would collapse if our maintenance of it was disrupted. Some of the deserted cityscapes here are utterly stunning, particularly as the film develops. The film also gets the ending dead-right, tying up the loose ends perfectly, and providing something which satisfies both heart and brain. The journey there is also pretty good, with a number of thrilling set-pieces which are very well-staged and put-together, while Mark and Enrique's relationship has a very nice arc over the course of events. The only real weakness is the script: it's initially confusing, until you realize there are two different time-streams being retold, intermixed with each other, and there is also too much reliance on dramatic coincidence, with a couple of fortuitous incidents which are necessary to the plot. Still, I'd be hard-pushed to claim that significantly weakens this, and I found it one of the most engrossing apocalypse movies I've seen in a long time, and certainly more emotionally satisfying than World War Z, if slightly shorter on the sheer spectacle.

B
[October 2013]


Last call for civilization
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