The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997) Poster

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10/10
A brilliant adaptation!
keanuette1 July 2000
Seeing that the whole movie is based on a letter from Neal Cassidy to Jack Kerouac, I reckon Stephen Kay did an excellent job of re-creating the essence that was Cassidy and his neer-do-well existence.

You felt for Neal (played very well by Thomas Jane ). He could almost taste the sweetness of a well balanced life - the honey at home the white picket fence the dog running around in the yard, but circumstance (his likings for the female of the species, penchant for stealing cars and his friendship with good 'ol HARRY [played brilliantly by KEANU REEVES]), just got in the way of true happiness.

The supporting cast give good all round performances, especially Claire Forlani as the girl of Cassidy's 'dreams'.

This movie catches the 'beat' excellently with great visuals and a Class A soundtrack.

Highly recommended.
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7/10
Last Time I Committed Suicide
LindsayJWebb16 November 2007
The best thing about this movie is the opening scene, where Neal Cassady is doing more daydreaming and dancing then he is working on his writing. The beginning of the movie screams to Cassady's life, and shows the audience a Marlon Brando type character that had strong ties with folks like, Allen Ginsberg and Jake Kerouac. Cassady, a forgotten literary figure with more passion for creativity then progress in writing, would later become the character to drive the bus in Ken Kesey's, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. It is important to note, that while Cassady had only one decent literary publication, his zealous outlook on life was borrowed by some of the "great literary beat writers" in America.

The Actor Keanu Reeves, who I have never been a huge fan of, does an excellent job of shedding light on Cassady's constant dissonance about leaving the life of a beat writer, for the life of a 9-5 working man with a stable house, beautiful wife, and loving family.

The movie overall, is about this dissonance, is about the passion that Cassady had for both the creative life and the more stable environment of the family life. Sadly, Cassady was unable to find balance between the two.

Do not expect, watching this movie that it will touch your life with a "wow-effect" forever. It is not some type of magical-beat-generation-movie that you can philosophize about for hours, it is just a pretty good movie.

What you can keep with you forever, however, is the soundtrack to this movie, The Last Time I Committed Suicide. With scores of music from folks like, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Tyler Bates, Ella Fitzgerald and Charles Mingus, this soundtrack is sure visit any jazz lovers CD player often.
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10/10
WONDERFUL FILM
Jonell19 January 1999
This movie was amazing...Thomas Jane was terrific..Claire Forlani, Gretchen Mol..BUT..the one who stole the film...was KEANU REEVES..he should be VERY proud of the job he did in this film. He *was* Harry...was not afraid to put on the extra pounds for the role..he looked like a loser barfly.. a very lovable one..This was a very overlooked film..that many people have not had the privilege to see...If you want to see Keanu Reeves ACT..see this film..Stephen Kay did a wonderful job..he captured the spirit of the time in the language and the cinematography.
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portrait of the beat generation
bongo-1523 September 1999
This is an excellent film which really captures the feeling and atmosphere of the Beat Generation. The film is based around a letter Neal Cassady (seen as Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's seminal 'On The Road') wrote to Jack Kerouac about his 16 year old girl friend Cherry Mary. I won't go into anymore details as I think the less you know about a film before seeing it the better - but suffice to say that if you have any interest in the beat generation, or enjoyed any of Kerouacs books you'll like this film. Cinematography and music are both also exceptional.
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10/10
A superb piece of filmmaking
themightyjackalope4 February 2003
I am writing this because I am in stark disagreement with a certain editor. This little film shows excellent directing, cinematography and acting. It stands as testimony against, and is infinitely better then, most of the talentless "indie" wastes of time that you'll see in the country's smaller theaters today. Thomas Jane BECOMES a young Neal Cassady, and displays one of the finer performances you'll ever see on film. In fact, the acting is excellent overall (To which the director should be praised). Admittedly, if you are interested in the legend of Neal Cassady this movie is going to be much more interesting to you. Still, even if you are not, it is a fine story of unrequited love, with humor and the spirit of the enjoyment of life. It is a touching period piece, excellently delivered and exceptionally written. The other Cassady-driven movie (unrelated to this cast and crew) - "Heart Beat" (1980) - hits you like a stale yellow lamp on a boring Sunday afternoon by comparison. This film is vivid and beautiful. It is a shame that a film of this caliber is being ignorantly shuffled under the carpet, becoming prematurely harder to fine with each passing day, while the constant deluge of mindlessness produced by the big studios becomes marketed ad nauseam over the course of decades. Stephen T. Kay made the kind of film that inspires filmmakers.

The soundtrack - also becoming harder and harder to find - cannot be beat (It remained untouched from my CD player for months). Personally, I had never been a fan of jazz music before owning it.
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10/10
All-around excellence in acting, writing, and direction!
wolfgirl9 July 1999
This film is a perfect evocation of Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the times that they lived in. It is the way they and other members of the Beat Generation lived. The script by Stephen Kay is based on a letter that Neal Cassady wrote to Allen Ginsberg about an adventure he had with a girl called Cherry Mary. Thomas Jane gives an outstanding performance as Neal, and Gretchen Mol is a scene-stealer as Cherry Mary. The cast is rounded out with strong supporting turns by Claire Forlani, Keanu Reeves (surprise, surprise!), and Adrien Brody. The direction, soundtrack, costumes, and cinematography all conspire to put you back in time. Stephen Kay is an assured director with just the right touch.
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10/10
One of the most moving letters of our time, reflected on film...
sugarcat16 February 2001
When I first read this letter written by Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac, I was moved beyond words. I had to read it over a few more times to really absorb the feel of it. There are two amazing things about it: 1.) That this man had such an amazing talent for writing & 2.) That this man actually LIVED like that!

I was curious to see what the movie would do to the letter (movies are rarely ever as good as the written form), and what I saw blew me away! While I have noticed that the real Neal Cassady is more "jittery & wirey" (the man never sat still!), the actor Thomas Jane gave a remarkable performance as Neal! I felt that every actor was perfectly fitting to their respective part, and that the story was told with atypical accuracy!

I'm sure that my copy is going to break soon, seeing as I keep playing it over and over again. Being a beat girl at heart, this has become my absolute favorite movie of all time.
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7/10
Offbeat
Lechuguilla13 December 2010
To appreciate this film the viewer needs either to be in a jazzy, rebellious sort of mood, or have some interest in Neal Cassady, an American who figured heavily in the development of the "beat generation" of the 1950s.

Set in the 1940s during one notable period of Cassady's life, the film is mostly a character study of Cassady (Thomas Jane), and his relationship with other people in his life, including his friend Harry (Keanu Reeves) and various romantic interests, the central one being Joan (Claire Forlani).

But Cassady was a quirky kind of guy, a rebel, a nonconformist, fun loving, with a restless energy, a person constantly on the move, both physically and philosophically. As presented in the film, he is a cross between James Dean and Jim Morrison.

Cassady's offbeat personality is mirrored in the film's offbeat style. It's shot partly in color and partly in B&W. Plot structure seems deliberately chaotic, frenetic, loose. Jump cuts can be jarring for viewers expecting a smoothly flowing, linear plot. And the tone alternates between silly and philosophical. Background music is mostly jazz with some blues thrown in. Accordingly, a lot of viewers will find the film's unorthodox style off-putting.

But I liked it, for the most part. The plot would have been stronger if it had focused on Cassady's 1950s relationship with other historical figures, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, instead of his romances with random women. Otherwise, the cinematography, the music, and the performance of Thomas Jane are terrific.
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8/10
Smart, captivating movie
heidigreta8 February 2000
Intelligent character portrayal of figures who profoundly influenced popular culture. Not for everyone, but if you want to be more than spoon-fed, its great. Claire Forlani and Gretchen Mol give terrific performances. Not your typical Reeves flick, but a refreshing performance from his normal brain dead stuff.
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Godesses and Poetry
Thomasu12 May 1999
"The Last Time I Committed Suicide" is an excellent description of live of a beatnick in the 50s. Thomas Jane does a good performance in a quaint leading roll, but he is duly overshadowed by the young rising Godesses of Hollywood; namely Claire Forlani and Gretchen Mol. These two girls have seen their careers boom as of late much due to their looks and screen sensuality. This bunch of new talent has one advantage over Keanu Reeves, who takes on a minor part in this movie. They are not yet typecast. Keanu did well for himself considering. However, what struck me the most was the mood portrayed in the movie. It was calm yet restless, poetic yet true to life. When we add the excellent choice of music we have a movie worthy a life at the top shelf.
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such life!
reiben24 April 2001
"this was not the last time I committed suicide..." That's such an amazing line. It's all about how you make certain choices that could make the world of difference in your future, how the road you have just chosen to take might not be the one that you most want -- but for some reason you take it anyways. That by one choice, you are killing a life that you might've had. It's a great movie! And the ending is wonderful! It's so bittersweet, so honest. It makes me wish that things were as easy as they were then. That like Neal Cassady, I could just drop everything, hop into a stolen car, and ride away --- doesn't matter where, just away.
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10/10
Outstanding!!
rox73124 July 2000
As a independent film lover as myself, this film is one of the best of the bunch. Kay does a wonderful job putting together this film taken from a letter. I've not seen this work done before in such a fashion. If your looking for Keanu Reeves in a pretty boy film, this is not it. His work is some of his best in independent film to date. I hope he continues to do independent films as he can really give to the characters that you cannot do with a big time director.

You have to see this film, if you've seen My Own Private Idaho, you will like this. Keanu only has limited space in this film but is a key character just the same.
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9/10
9
Ecta-C9 December 2001
The only reason i do not give this movie a ten is because of the ending. But i suppose they really had no choice seeing as how they were basing on a real letter that had been written adn a real person who actually existed, and im guessing actual events maybe. But other than that and Reeves, it was an incredible flicker. original to the T, and written beautifully. *****
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7/10
even Neal Cassady had an unusual conflict in his desires
lee_eisenberg22 January 2008
One of the most surprising things in "The Last Time I Committed Suicide" is the whole part about Neal Cassady's thoughts about living the "ideal" American life (a nuclear family and a house surrounded by a white picket fence). Cassady was one of the major people in the Beat generation, which rejected the "Leave It to Beaver" image of life. If in fact Cassady thought about having this kind of life, then it goes to show his own conflicts, even beyond the main plot in this movie.

But I digress. I think that the movie did a good job looking at Neal Cassady (Thomas Jane). He and Jack Kerouac remain two of the most important figures of the 20th century. Also starring Keanu Reeves, Marg Helgenberger and Gretchen Mol...and just take a look at that one scene of her! (you know which one I mean)
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Get this director a valium, PLEASE!
jemmytee7 December 2003
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

category).

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

body.
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7/10
Under-rated
Jimmy Jimmereeno13 December 1999
Okay, it has Keanu Reeves in it. Normally, that alone would be enough for me to slam a movie. But this is about the "beat generation", well just one beat actually, Neal Cassidy. I'm obsessed with this small literary movement so I was definitely interested in seeing this movie. If you have any interest in the inspiration for Jack Keruoac's On the Road, you can probably overlook the Keanu thing. He doesn't play the lead either. If you never heard of Neal Cassidy and hate Keanu Reeves, see this for the two females in it, Gretchen Mol and Claire Forlani who are both excellent. I guess I was surprised at how low a rating this movie got, it's not classic or anything but it's not exactly awful either. It's definitely worth a rental. Anyone ever heard of a movie called The Source?
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4/10
A story would be nice.
krusty-89 May 1999
There's some nice imagery going on in this film and the music is fantastic. But the characters are so boring and really not very likeable at all. Also, a story would be nice.
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I Mention Two David Cross Thingies In A Review For A Movie That Has Nothing To Do With David Cross! Mr. Show!
thisidisnotavailable1916 October 2011
To clear up any misconceptions, it's based on the Cherry Mary letter to Kerouac(not Ginsberg) and the Reeves character isn't supposed to be Kerouac, he's supposed to be one of Cassady's old Denver pool hall buddies. If you recall the beginning of the movie, Cassady is writing this story to Kerouac(it's the letter, get it?) why would he be telling Kerouac a story that Kerouac was such a big part of? Plus, Kerouac, though he liked to drink, wasn't like that at all.

Although I do believe that Benjamin is based on Ginsberg. Even though the nameless guy from the letter that he represents wasn't Ginsberg, I think Kay took the opportunity of a blank-slate character to make a Ginsberg character(I base this on the attitude of the character, the obvious crush he has on Cassady, and the race car story that Cassady tells him which is a story Cassady told Ginsberg orally in reality that Ginsberg jotted down and that you can find in Cassady's book, The First Third), which is a great idea. Except that Adrian Brody stands firmly as my least favorite Allen Ginsberg portrayal of all time. He did not capture Ginsberg's brand of warmth and sweetness even slightly. The writing cannot be blamed for how annoying Brody played him. See the Ginsberg portrayals in Naked Lunch and I'm Not There for very good Ginsbergs by Michael Zelniker and David Cross.

What makes up for Adrian Brody's Ginsberg is Tom Jane's Cassady which is spot on. The way he spoke and moved was perfect. Just short of watching Cassady himself. It was strange to see such good acting and such bad acting right next to each other.

Unlike Naked Lunch(Which I think anybody who likes a good movie can easily enjoy) I understand how anyone who doesn't know and like the Beats wouldn't really dig this movie. However it was a lot of fun for me to watch and it will be the next time I watch it too.

I don't know if anyone noticed, but in addition to all the lines taken from the letter it's based on, there was lines taken from other stuff Cassady wrote too! Like I said, the race car story he tells Benjamin is a story he told Allen and there is the best line from one of my favorite Cassady/Ginsberg letters: "I see no greatness in myself--I even have no conception of what is greatness. I am a simple-minded, child-like, insipid sort of moronic kind of awkward-feeling adolescent." which is not quoted directly in the movie, as it is in this here review, but it's in there! And I believe the Adventures in Auto Eroticism story is in there too? Probably other stuff I'm forgetting. Anyway, Stephen Kay clearly knows his stuff when it comes to these guys and I don't think the script lacked wit at all, I thought it was natural, especially considering how many of the lines were quotes, I think he mixed them pretty well into his own writing(Although I wouldn't say quite as well a Cronenberg did in Naked Lunch). Also check out Tom Jane in Arrested Development!
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Intriguing idea, but slow moving story.
Kuonoono2 February 2001
An interesting historical fiction of a real letter written from Neil Cassady to Jack Kerouac. Real artsy, and poetic. Almost like Macbeth, not the story, but how it drew a character. The hero of the story, you know is in ways bad, but you feel for.
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2/10
some good looking guy with no personality doesn't do much
ptoche5 August 2007
The most disappointing thing about this movie is that it has no literary value. There is no story to speak of, Neal Cassady's life is pathetically boring, and the dialog is without any wit at all.

We follow Neal Cassady -- who is supposed to be 20 but looks 30 -- swap girlfriends and hangs out with some losers, including some totally unrecognizable Beat poets.

The actors are doing their best but the script they are grappling with is empty. It's pretty girls and pretty boys, and pretty boring.

No wit, and, worst of all, no beat!

Neal Cassady : a would-be James Dean without a cause and indeed without a rebellion!
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Suicide Ain't Painless
DrPhilmreview5 January 2007
How can a film with a dream cast that includes Keanu Reeves, Adrien Brody, Marg Helgenberger, Gretchen Mol and Amy Smart go wrong? Try bad script and even worse direction. You might begin to consider suicide yourself about half an hour in.

Thomas Jane headlines the cast as Neal Cassady in this headache inducing film biog. He's probably the weakest of the performers involved. But he certainly gets no help from director Stephen Kay who seems more interested in showing off his camera tricks and technique than actually directing actors and making scenes work.

When this film isn't painful, its a bore. There is a reason you've never heard of "The Last Time I Committed Suicide". Be grateful and avoid if at all possible.
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Great representation of beat literary style
v8injun28 December 2003
Anyone who has actually read any of the beat narratives, in particular Kerouac and Cassady prose, would agree that the film comes as close to encapsulating the language and overall style onto film as possible. I agree the film does adhere to a certain MTV aesthetic, but whose to say that the aesthetic didn't already exist before it was given that name? One could argue that Neal Cassady himself was one of the more well known ADD characters of late fifties literature, if not all literature, with his penchant for the next free drink of booze, the next broad, jumping from stolen car to stolen car, even ditching his friends (in Mexico in On the Road) if the need arose. While you may have problems with the narrative structure, those of us who are great beat literature enthusiasts recognize that the jump cut style of the narrative already existed and was brought to life in this film in a fantastic manner.
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A capsule of the Beats
Iceman-2316 May 1999
Seeing this film for the first time is like being introduced to that friend or lover you always dreamed about. Neal Cassady, the hero of Jack Kerouac's On The Road and Visions Of Cody, comes to life on the screen, having the same effect as James Dean used to; as the old cliche goes: women want him, men want to be him. Taken from a letter Cassady wrote to good ol' Jack, the story meanders around the lives of Cassady, his pool hall boozer friend Harry, and his lovely but melancholy girlfriend Joan (played exquisitely by Claire Forlani, who is in my humble opinion one of the most beautiful and gifted people working in Hollywood today). So, not to give too much of the plot away, Neal manages to have his decisions made for him; whether this is by fate or by his own personality is left up to the viewer. Stephen Kay follows Cassady and recreates a legend before our eyes. And whoever discovered Thomas Jane deserves a big ol' kiss. The film delivers, and the spirit of the Beats once again is given a voice and, as it were, an image.
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8/10
Defending the film to nay-sayers
ed-1275 February 1999
Like many movies nostalgic for a care-free past, this film maintains the notion that reckless abandon and a laissez-faire approach to living life is a viable option, a view that is expressed far too infrequently in today's society. Here we have the classic early Brando protagonist with a twist--he's really a philosopher under that white t-shirt with the sleeve rolled up. The film remains true to the letters that it is based on, and exemplifies the exuberant and excited writings of Neal Cassady. And though Reeves does remain somewhat annoying throughout the film, his role is a minor one that does not distract from an otherwise engaging film.
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And the point is?
AmyD4192 May 2000
I sat through this whole movie waiting for something, anything to make it worth watching, and nothing. Maybe I missed some great meaning in there somewhere. After watching this my husband has vowed that I am never to go to the video store alone again! For one, there were a lot of flashbacks I could have done without. Basically this movie is about a guy who has no idea what he truly wants. He thinks he wants a stable life with a wife, a kid, a house with a white picket fence. However he thinks he can make this life with a very unstable girl. He is simply a guy who spends the whole movie doing whatever he pleases no matter what the consequences. Like most men he doesn't want to grow up nor does he know how.

In the end he has accomplished nothing and neither has this movie! Save the rental! A better lot of movies in this genre would be "Brother's McMullen" or "She's the One" both by Edward Burns. He at least has a point!
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