29 user 13 critic

The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997)

In 1946 Denver, an aspiring writer who enjoys irresponsible adventures with his friend, writes a letter about his life before and after the suicide attempt by his sad girlfriend who wants a commitment.


Stephen Kay (as Stephen T. Kay)


Neal Cassady (letter), Stephen Kay




Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Jane ... Neal Cassady
Keanu Reeves ... Harry
Adrien Brody ... Ben
John Doe ... Lewis
Claire Forlani ... Joan
Jim Haynie ... Jerry
Marg Helgenberger ... Lizzy
Lucinda Jenney ... Rosie Trickle
Gretchen Mol ... Mary Greenway
Pat McNamara ... Father Fletcher
Kate Williamson ... Nurse Waring
Cristine Rose ... Mrs. Greenway (as Christine Rose)
Meadow Sisto Meadow Sisto ... Sarah
Amy Smart ... Jeananne
Alexandra Holden ... Vicky


Neal Cassady is living the beat life during the 1940s, working at The Tire Yard and and philandering around town. However, he has visions of a happy life with kids and a white picket fence. When his girlfriend, Joan, tries to kill herself he gets scared and runs away. But when Joan reappears will he take the chance at that happiness, or will he turn his back on it? Written by Katie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Life is what happens when you're busy making plans See more »


Biography | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The letter on which this movie is based was referred to by its author Neal Cassady, and its recipient Jack Kerouac as "the Joan Anderson letter" (even though the only extant fragment more prominently and dramatically dealt with a different girlfriend of Neal's at the time, nicknamed Cherry Mary). This letter, written in December 1950 about events in Cassady's life from the summer through Christmas of 1945, was "lost" circa 1954 and 1955. But before that happened, a 5,000-word fragment (on which this movie is based) had been copied (retyped) likely by Kerouac himself, and was subsequently published in 1964 in a small San Francisco literary magazine called "Notes From Underground", then again later in Cassady's posthumous autobiography "The First Third" (beginning "To have seen a specter isn't everything ..."). The entire 16,000-word letter by Cassady - which Kerouac had praised as a turning point in his approach to writing - was never seen again after 1955 - and consequently became something of a Holy Grail in the Beat world. Miraculously, in 2012, the entire letter was found after nearly sixty years in old boxes that had been stored since being rescued from the Sausalito publisher Golden Goose's garbage when it folded in 1955. It's set for auction on December 17, 2014. See more »


Dianne Reeves wasn't born until 1956 but her "Jingle Bells" is used in the soundtrack. See more »


Neal Cassady: Jerry, you ever wake up in the middle of the night because the... the things that you see in your dreams are things you know nothing about? When I close my eyes I see fences, I see white picket fences, I see green, green grass and things that I honestly have never touched, have never smelled, except for... when I go to this place in my sleep.
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Ride My Heart
Written by Petula Clark
Performed by Petula Clark
See more »

User Reviews

Get this director a valium, PLEASE!
7 December 2003 | by jemmyteeSee all my reviews

You know, normally when you have a good script and excellent

actors on your project, you can turn out something decent, good or

great...even when you, as the director, believe you're talented and

think you know what you're doing. But so far as "The Last Time I

Committed Suicide" is concerned, Stephen T. Kay flat out ruined

this movie, and it is damn near unforgivable.

Here we have a screenplay filled with some of the most wonderful

dialog you can imagine being delivered by a troupe of wonderful

actors. Thomas Jane gives a star making turn as Neal Cassady,

and he is backed up with a startlingly naturalistic and cozy turn by

Keanu Reeves as his drunk buddy, Harry. But could you enjoy the

beautiful rhythm of their work? Noooooooooo. By God, Mr. Kay

was going to remind you every step of the way that he is

DIRECTING this film and you are going to pay attention to that fact,

come hell or high water.

I mean, here we have a quiet intense drama about a charismatic

man who inspired people like Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg,

and the director uses every trick in "The MTV Bible of Pseudo

Filmography" to hide that fact and (supposedly) make it palatable

for the ADD generation. You got your jump cuts and edits every .9

seconds and odd angles and pretty inserts and on and on and on

until I finally wanted to scream at the screen, "Take a F*****G

valium!" Drama has to unfold; it cannot be force fed down your

gullet because the man making the movie thinks you're too easily

distracted to give a damn about the characters.

I've only seen one other movie where the director completely

destroyed a wonderful script -- "A Chorus of Disapproval"

(although if "While You Were Sleeping" had had any other actress

in the lead besides Sandra Bullock, it would also fit in this cursed


So...if you like your drama spit out in food fight fashion, then this is

the movie for you. But if you want anything approaching reality,

check out something like "La Dolce Vita" by Federico Fellini, who

has more style in his right pinkie than in all of Stephen T. Kay's


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

20 June 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Time I Committed Suicide See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,836, 22 June 1997

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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