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Amber Lee Ettinger,
Paul Miller, a self-described "failed actor," sets out for his final act and his ultimate role: the last two days of his life ending with his suicide on tape. He tries to reunite with old friends and family members to say one last final goodbye, all of whom attempt to coax him out of killing himself or dismiss his intentions as a joke. Written by
Manages to accomplish comedy and intense drama in one impressive package, if not for the slightly lacking middle.
TWO DAYS (US, 2003)
Director: Sean McGinley Starring: Paul Rudd, Donal Logue
I caught this movie on cable by accident and it managed to surprise me. It places Paul Rudd as a failing actor named Paul Miller who, having decided to commit suicide, hires a film crew to document his last days. A depressing subject, but handled beautifully.
In the beginning, we are unsure if Paul is joking or not. He constantly whines about his life, yet from the friends who are interviewed in the documentary within the film, we feel that he may be doing it for the attention. At least they think so. The crew goes from best friend to ex fling to ex girlfriend to his agent, each trying to convince him not to do it, and each time he seems to soften up a little to the idea of life. After each visit, the crew asks if he still wants to kill himself. He seems not to be fazed.
Why would someone want to film himself in his last days, culminating in his death (which would label the doc a snuff movie)? It's almost as if he wants them to talk him out of it, although throughout the film he simply shrugs and says to his new buddies with the cameras "I'm still doing it." And why not? We learn that his agent won't return his calls, neither will his successful actor friend who suddenly invites him to work with him. Also, in a fantastically touching scene where Paul demonstrates his acting ability (and a revelation from Paul Rudd as well) we can see how frustrated he has become. He IS incredibly talented, yet still no joy. Soon the crew members are rooting for him, they become his best friends after a period of only two days. This is as much a comedy as a drama and until seeing the film, it's hard to see how, but it is there. In the final scenes where Paul has to make his major decision, we are not treated to atmospheric music or flashy jump cutting that any mainstream film may use to create the right intensity. Instead the finale relies solely on Rudd's excellent performance and the alternating between the film stock and the video footage used by the documentary crew.
Having said all that, there are some minor quibbles. In the film's midsection, it drags as dialogue is repeated as the structure of the first act recurs in the second. The filmmakers are trying to make the point that no matter how many people try to talk him out of it, he's not budging, but we got that, we understand without it, so it just seems like padding. That and a pointless subplot involving a relationship between Stu the producer's girlfriend and the sound man are a tad out of place and not in keeping with the story. In some films you need these subplots, maybe for comic relief or to set up plot devices for later on. This film is not one of them. That and Stu the producer gets on your nerves after a while. However, the acting is superb, especially from Rudd who really sinks his teeth into the role, the kind he hardly ever gets, and the direction is skilfully handled switching between what we see and what the documentary crew sees through their cameras. An engaging little indie flick.
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