Living End, The
Reviewed by Jenny LeComte
Rating: 9 Beans
f a blood-spattered guy fresh from a near death experience with two gun-toting
lesbians staggered over to your car, what would you say? Certainly not “hop in, mate,
I’ll give you a lift.”
That’s the trouble with this movie. It’s got more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.
I know you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief when bathed in the silvery light of
art house cinema, but hell’s bells. How much meandering can one take in 93 minutes?
Watching this movie is like taking a train across the Australian Outback. All the
scenery is the same and you’re on it for days, but you don’t appear to be going
The Living End is supposed to be a “nihilistic black comedy” about two HIV-positive
men who decide to have one last hurrah before the grim reaper grabs them. Instead,
it’s a confusing hodge podge of two-dimensional characters played by unknown actors
who’ll stay that way if we’re lucky.
Luke (Mike Dytri) is a film critic. After he receives the death sentence from his doctor
and one too many obscene phone calls at home, he decides to drive aimlessly around
LA and talk to his portable tape recorder.
Jon (Craig Gilmore) is a drifter fresh from Muscle Beach who has been hopping into
strange cars ever since that fateful day at the AIDS clinic. When he hitches a ride with
Fern (Johanna Went) and Daisy (Mary Woronov), he ends up at the wrong end of a
Saturday night special. He somehow manages to pinch the gun and uses it to blow
away two homophobics out the front of a convenience store.
Luke just happens to be cruising past at the time and thinks that Jon - who is now
covered in blood and looks like an exhibit from the police museum - is a bit of all right.
I guess there’s no accounting for some people’s taste. It was bad enough when he let
Jon get into his car. But when he took him back to his apartment, I thought: “He’s
definitely depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”
It’s not long before the two men discover their common bond. Luke does the right
thing before they do the deed and tries to tell Jon he’s HIV-positive.
‘Welcome to the club,’ Jon replies.
When Jon pulls out his gun and starts fondling it, Luke senses there’s something not
quite kosher about this bloke and tries to kick him out of the apartment. Jon explains
that he’s going to die soon, anyway, and doesn’t give a damn about anything anymore.
‘Let’s go to San Francisco,’ Jon suggests and Luke, stupid prawn that he is, revs up
The rest of the movie is like “Thelma and Louise” on a bad acid trip. Lots of weird
characters, bad techno music and plenty of long shots of Jon and Luke with no shirts
on. Jon continues to fondle his gun (no pun intended) and Luke occasionally whines
about going home. I don’t see why he doesn’t. It’s his car after all. But Luke seems
incapable of making any kind of decision.
Once in a while, Luke slopes off to a public phone box to call his artist friend Darcy
(Darcy Marta) collect and ask for her advice. I’ve got no idea why. Darcy’s flakier
than a fillet of fish. If she’s not tripping over all the weird paraphenalia in her studio,
she’s having unbelievably stupid rows with her live-in lover Peter (Scot Goetz). When
he complains that they don’t have enough sex, Darcy tells him she’s too worried about
‘He fell into a deep depression when Echo and the Bunnymen broke up,’ she wailed.
It doesn’t get any better than that. Up until this point, The Living End was going
downhill fast. Then it went into freefall. Luke kept whining and started coughing as
well. Jon kept fondling his gun. There’s a tense stand-off somewhere in Montana (I’ve
got no idea how they ended up there and I don’t think the director, Gregg Araki,
knows either). Then the final credits start rolling and you’re left thinking what the...?
After the shock of the abrupt ending wears off, you’re also left thinking of more
productive ways of spending 93 minutes. Like shaving your eyeballs with a machete.
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