|Index||6 reviews in total|
...so suffice it to say, maybe this isn't exactly a cutesy "Hugh Grant"
date romcom. But even though I may have found myself walking home alone
at 10pm following a very awkward good-night cheek kissy thing like they
do in France, I gotta say I thoroughly enjoyed this movie from start to
"Living 'til the End" is a very stylish, atmospheric drama with a very humorous (and clever) premise. Notice how I didn't refer to it as either a "rom" or a "com" even though the DVD description might lead you to expect a whimsical date flick.
An introverted freak named Jack (Sean Maher) is told by a psychic that he will die in 1 year. Soon after, he meets an extroverted freak named Audrey who is dying. There is just enough bizarreness to keep the story funny, but make no mistake, this is a heavy subject focusing on death and how we choose to live our limited lives.
I got some good LOLs, and both leading actors did a great job and provide some nice eye candy. At one point my date looked at me in disbelief and said, "These have to be the two best looking screwed up people I've ever seen." And I believe that's part of the surreal presentation. Without wasting our time with the standard romcom subplots of dating, attraction, fidelity and such, this film cuts through all the BS and shows us two people who instantly connect and who seem to have their lives (and hair) in perfect order, with the 1 exception of the fact that they're both facing impending death.
As such, writer/director Amanda Goodwin creates an almost perfect fantasy world with no unnecessary distractions, all right in the heart of New York City. Set design is almost sterile in its perfection, reminding me of the excellent Paul Thomas Anderson flick "Punch Drunk Love" which similarly creates a surreal urban fairytale background.
I noticed what may have been a few artistic nods toward French New Wave master Jean-Luc Godard, in particular a tight dialogue scene where, rather than cutting to different cameras on each person, there is 1 camera that pans back & forth. But what's funny is that she alternated this disorienting editing style with deliberate clean cuts.
I would love to watch this film again, paying close attention to these unusual yet deliberate directing choices. I haven't had my artistic interest so piqued by a directoral debut since I saw Vincent Gallo's excellent 1st film "Buffalo 66" (whose fans would really like this movie as well). Alas, at the time, I was more interested in stealthily maneuvering my arm around my date than the camera maneuvers. I went with the classic yawn/stretch move, but as you can guess it didn't work.
And it didn't work because ultimately, as I said up front, this is not a good date movie. It's not the sort of cutesy, silly, light fare you play in the background whilst you're maneuvering your hand around your date. "Living til the End" is a powerful, thought-provoking film hidden under a candy coated exterior. Watch it by yourself with a bottle of red wine or maybe some whiskey. As for date night, I dunno. I hear there's a new Hugh Grant flick coming out. Maybe he'll salvage my love life.
Jack (Sean Maher) is convinced by his longtime girlfriend, Cynthia (Kathleen Rose Perkins) to visit a psychic for a few laughs. However, once there, no one is giggling at all. The seer correctly states that Cynthia is cheating on Jack, which the lovely young lady admits. But, worse, Mrs. Fortune Teller predicts that Jack will die on or before his next birthday. Horror indeed. Hit with this double whammy, Jack mourns the loss of Cyndy and also becomes an agoraphobic! Fortunately, his job as an estate planner can manage via telephone and computers. Also, quite amusingly, Jack wears a football helmet at all times! His mother (Janet Carroll) is quite upset with this, for she longs for Jack to find a mate, have children, and a normal life. Therefore, she convinces Jack to see a shrink, Dr. Shaw (Stephen Tobolowsky). But, Jack makes very little progress until a beautiful young woman, Audrey (Jaime Ray Newman) moves into his apartment building. She comes calling for Jack's professional advice, for she says she has received news that she is dying. Sad. Nevertheless, it is Audrey's courage and zest for life, in the face of such a death sentence, that brings Jack out of his condition. They even go on a trip to Paris. But, will either Jack or Audrey be able to conquer the predictions of a fortune teller or the medical establishment? We'll see. First, the two young stars a wonder, despite their lack of fame. Maher is one real looker and Newman is an unusually beautiful redhead. Beyond that, they can act up a storm! The other cast members, especially the more familiar Tobolowksy do fine work, too. Then, even though the sets aren't elaborate or the costumes complicated, the film looks great. Add on an intriguing script, a dash of romance, a pinch of humor, and a secure direction and you have a very good view for most film fans. My only problem was the ending, I didn't like it, although I did appreciate its originality. Those who do love twisted finales will, presumably, embrace it more readily. In short, fans of lesser known cinema should seek this one out and not wait til the "end" to book a viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll spare you repetition of what others have already said about this
lovely little film.
Yes, there is one particularly mishandled camera shot. Yes, it's an independent film made on a relatively low budget. Yes, it's theme of love and hope persevering through the difficulties of illness and other obstacles has been portrayed in countless made-for-TV films that we've all seen a million times on the Hallmark Channel (and/or Lifetime, Oxygen, etc.). But THIS one is different - VERY different.
Jaime Ray Newman's looks are as beautiful as is her acting ability, and in this film she's simply a sheer joy to watch. Although Sean Maher is equally good looking and has great acting skill, he may slightly over-act in his portrayal of lead character Jack Whilton - he occasionally reminds me of Jim Carey when he does - for all practical purposes the ENTIRE cast is exceptionally good, often brilliant. With the exception of that one mishandled shot, the scenes are all very engaging and shot in a way that helps capture and sustain your attention from beginning to end. The music is perfectly suited to the content. And although the ending has an ironic twist, when it comes upon you you will find yourself thinking that you won't be able to say that the film maker didn't warn you (and I'll just leave it at that, so as to not provide you with a "spoiler" ;-)
Even the PACE of this little movie is VERY good - a RARITY these days, even in BIG-budget films... which is indicative of good directing and producing. Which leads me to writer/director/co-producer Amanda Goodwin:
I always LOVE to see people rise up from the ranks of unknown actors in low-budget B (or even C) movies into the roles of screenwriter, director or producer. It tells me they LOVE movies and the craft of making them. This love is ESSENTIAL to truly fine, emotion- producing films that have a meaningful PURPOSE to their existence. ANYONE can make a technically proficient feature film. But VERY FEW people can make one that allows you to truly suspend your disbelief, believe in and actually CARE FOR if not love the characters and really FEEL for them and the situations that they find themselves in. This movie makes you feel like you want it to last LONGER, because you genuinely want to see MORE of the characters and their relationships with each other. Amanda Goodwin is the person who has accomplished all of this. If you take the time to watch this film and review her past work you will see what I mean.
Living 'Til the End is a fine piece of dramatic film making that creatively and engagingly portrays the extent to which our neurotically-driven "modern mental illnesses" so often get in the way of our finding and hanging on to true love, sometimes to tragic endings. It will linger in your mind long after you have seen it, and it's the kind of movie that you'll want to see more than once in order to explore the characters more deeply - their portrayals are THAT good. If you're looking for a really unique, sweet yet thoughtful and insightful drama about life, death, love and ADULT angst, I HIGHLY recommend THIS one.
I loved this movie. Very well done, touching, interesting. If you are used to seeing Sean Maher in "Serenity," and like that kind of a movie, then, this is not the movie for you. It is a serious romantic drama, with funny, upbeat moments. He takes a huge departure from prior stuff. But, he is excellent in it, and so is Jaime Ray Newman. Kind of like a "Garden State," but without the stars and money. I loved the way it was shot. It is thought provoking in the sense that I don't think any of the way it was done was by accident. There are direct contrasts to the two leads lives -- in style and music. I notice this a lot throughout in the way the director did this film. Obviously, it 's an indie -- but, way better executed than most big budget we're offered. So, if you're in the mood for something different, more dialogue than action, and some great acting and directing, then I suggest you give this film a look. It's worth it.
Great ending!! Why aren't movies like this one available for viewing in my local theaters?! It was refreshing to see new young acting talent and a fresh new storyline. The cinematography and locations were fabulous. I will be keeping an eye out for more titles by this talented young director. She seems to have a keen sense of common human angst, peppering hard truths with intelligent humor. This is just the type of film I like to settle down to and get lost in. I recommend it so highly that I purchased a couple of DVDs for friends as holiday gifts. They agreed with my positive review and have come back to me for more advice on great movie finds.
I was drawn in by the cover photo...there was something "Royal Tenanbaum"_esque about it. Very quickly in the opening scene with the fortune teller it was clear we had rented yet another B movie by the film quality and acting. What really made this a bad movie, though, was the story itself. The fact that Jack becomes agoraphobic because of what the fortune teller told him was hard to swallow, but the fact that he becomes cartoonishly terrified is just too much. He is such a freaking pansy that I'm sure a 5th grade girl would even want to kick him in the nuts to see him do something brave. I can see where the writer was going with this story but it is just so one dimensional. Also most of the scoring and pacing was done so poorly that there was no punch in events. Audrey was all this film had going for it. She's beautiful and her character had a bit of depth (unlike Jack). Also...the secret (I won't give it away here) that Jack told his psychologist seemed to have nothing to do wiith the plot. Finally, I did not like how it ended.
|Ratings||Official site||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|