The Living Wake (2007)
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K. Roth Binew is a self proclaimed genius artist who has just discovered he has a very limited time to live. To go out with a bang, he decides to return to his hometown to reconcile with family, face his enemies one last time, and finally be laid to rest after a living wake. To help him, he enlists his aid and friend Mills, who leads him around on a bicycle powered rickshaw.
As mentioned, this is not your average comedy. Mike O'Connell leads the viewer around from one point to another, taking care of whatever business he desires, be it trying to get some of his self published books placed in the local library or facing his parents one last time. And the character of Binew is as puffy and conceited as you might expect from a self-titled proclaimed genius. But the experience of Binew's life is so unique that it's quite entertaining. And Jessie Eisenberg is such a great foil to Binew's craziness, as a fairly level headed character, that one of the joys of the film is seeing the two interact. But, what works so well here is the films heart. These characters are very well crafted in more than just their uniqueness. You can tell a real passion was placed into them. It is in the quieter moments that you find the films worth. There is even a moment at the end that is cause for tears, but I won't spoil that here.
Again, this won't be everyone's cup of tea. The script was partly written by O'Connell, who crafts a unique brand of humor. Anyone who is not into it, probably will be a little turned off by the character created. But, in his writing, he crafts a complex figure. We've seen these kinds of characters before, misunderstood artists whose unique look and way of life is their charm. But even for such a story, this is a unique take. A good example is the musical number thrown in a little over halfway through the film. While this might seem out of place, it fits in very well with Binew's character, whom one could imagine bursting into song at any given point simply because he feels like it and believes it adds something to life. Such is K. Roth Binew.
Sol Tyson handles the film well. He never makes a point at showing us just how ridiculous things are. He simply treats it as life. The film is also colorfully filmed and the choice of location is quite enjoyable. I really can't complain about much of anything in the film. It's an enjoyable journey through the final day of one very unique individual.
I don't expect the majority of people to enjoy this film. It certainly isn't a film built for mass audiences, and one can only hope that the majority of people watching WOULD enjoy it. However, I found this to be a fantastic experience and think that anyone who can see it and is looking for a comedy wholly different from anything you'll see this year should run to the theater and catch it while you can.
Quirky and very strange, yet I loved this film. I've seen it twice so far, and I'm sure I will watch again. Jesse Eisenberg is stunning as the character Mills. At the appropriate times, the anguish weighs heavily on Jesse's/Mill's face.
And Michael O'Connell is deliciously over the top as H. Roth Binew.
If you want more of the same then go to the local cinema, but if you want a unique and funny experience in the surreal and absurd, and if you love independent film, then you are very likely to enjoy this movie.
Highly recommended, but only to those who don't subsist on Hollywood Blockbusters.
At its heart, The Living Wake is a story about a man trying to find his way in the world as he comes to terms with death. We see K. Roth Binew go through his final day on Earth as he tries to figure out the "short, powerful monologue" - his way of trying to reconcile with the memory of his father walking out on him as a child. Really, though, it is about exploring who we are and how we see ourselves versus how we want people and the world to remember us after we pass.
It is a hopeless English major's dream. I only wish that some more people appreciated this- though not too many- it's too beautiful to be mainstreamed or "hipsterized"- hipsters be damned! I love the hell outta this movie and totally respect the writers. I only wish that there was a genre of film in which more films like this one resided although maybe that's what makes this film so wonderful. I look forward to my future career as a benevolent dictator of an ant farm.
Mike O'Connell delivers the slightly abrasive character true to form and Michael Cera's character Mills is lovable.
While it's intended as a comedy, the core issues the lead struggles with are real (albeit distorted) and engage the viewers empathy if not their sympathy!
As far as Indie films go, this is one of my new favorites!
The movie centers around the flawed notion held by everyone involved in the creation and making of The Living Wake that weirdness and quirkiness are inseparably bound to genius. K. Roth Binew, diagnosed with some punctual terminal illness, uses his last day to search for, I don't know, meaning or whatever, while Jesse Eisenberg pedals him around in a rickshaw. There was nothing funny about this movie. I have never scowled so hard while watching a movie or doing anything. The urge to stop watching this movie was overwhelming as I spent the longest 90 minutes of my life wishing that dude would just die already. Then, after those 90 minutes of needlessly endless quirk, he did die, and it brought me no joy.
If you're thinking of watching this movie, I implore you to stare at a wall or a blank screen for 90 minutes. It'll be a much better use of your time. Whoever put money into this disaster should never be allowed to have money again. When I think of how many starving children could've been fed for the money that went into this movie, it would make me sad, but due to the complete artlessness of this movie and my iron-minded ability to watch it in its entirety, I'm wholly convinced that I have no feelings and that I know no such thing as empathy anymore. My balls are huge. A lesser, smarter man would've stopped watching this movie.
I could pick apart the acting or the writing or the "pee"-poor emulation of certain elements of Wes Anderson films, but why bother? Why bother doing anything? The movie was dedicated "in loving memory" to someone with the same last name of the director. I can only imagine this was a revenge plot. Maybe the director's brother slept with the director's wife or something. I don't know. It's like when a horrible tragedy happens and you look somewhere, anywhere, for answers, but there aren't any.
Please do not see this movie. It was worse than the Holocaust.