has an average rating of 6.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 25gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are all too brief
– 94 minutes
– Image Entertainment
This uses 14.3GB for the movie out of 15.2GB total.
Street Date: April 21st, 2009
Overall Verdict – Worth A Look
— Review written by: Brendan Surpless —
The Movie Itself is Directed by Geoffrey Haley (who was a screenwriter on the HBO series “Six Feet Under“. Having penned this film while working on the final season of “Under“, we’re immediately introduced to Evan (a fantastic Wes Bentley), a freelance writer who makes his living writing suicide notes for his clients. The way it works is that Evan meets with the client, asks them to keep a journal of their thoughts for two weeks and eventually pens their letter for the soon-to-be-departed. Once such client (whom we don’t actually meet) was named Matthew Morris, brother of Charlotte (Winona Ryder). Evan and Charlotte fall for each other quickly leading Evan to lie about the type of writing he does (obviously he doesn’t want Charlotte to know he helped Matthew pen the suicide note he family eventually saw).
Matthew’s latest client is Abel (an excellent rare role by Ray Romano), a man who seemingly has an odd look on life. Wanting to kill himself, Abel informs Evan that his one goal (if he remains alive) would be to start a business where his clients would be able to destroy things they simply don’t get or find difficult to understand. Having to deal with this new client who has a rather sarcastic look on everything in his life, his new girlfriend in Charlotte and trying to balance all aspects of his hidden work, “The Last Word” is a rare gem that is moving and really worth a look.
The real charm and lasting effect from “The Last Word” comes not from the actual story (even though it is an interesting, twisted take on the romantic genre) but rather the all around great performances. Wes Bentley (who we known from “American Beauty“) delivers a similar performance here. With a sense of subtlety to his day job, Evan doesn’t necessarily display emotion while basically being the last person his clients will speak to. Rather he sits there almost studying his clients wondering perhaps why exactly they have decided to take their own lives. As we learn that one his clients was suffering, Evan isn’t condoning the act of suicide but rather finds it fascinating that these people trust in him to deliver a letter that sums up their whole existence.
One such client of Evan’s of particular interest is Abel. Having never really been that huge a fan of Romano, I was quite impressed by his performance here. Thinking of another comedic who turned to an expected role via Robin Williams and his “One Hour Photo” (clearly this isn’t anywhere near as dark as “Photo“), Romano has an almost funny look to his wish of suicide. For instance one scene shows him releases stress by walking behind a mother who is holding her child. He proceeds to make faces at the child thus making it cry leading to a release of stress. As Evan puzzingly asks him why he does this to which Abel tells him that the kid will probably still be a prick. That’s the aspect of Romano’s performance that made me almost smile and laugh at points. He has such a sarcastic look on the world. These two play off each other perfectly with Abel bringing out a side of Evan that makes him question everything.
In all honesty I had never heard of “The Last Word” before receiving this title in from Image. But I’m certainly glad that I was sent this title as this is a truly good film that has a few great performances and all around interesting message. I read that audiences gave this film a standing round of applause when the movie was screened at The Sundance Film Festival. I can clearly see why now.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte, single layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Using a palette that focuses on brighter colors (like whites, blues and yellows), “The Last Word” arrives with a fine video transfer that fans will certainly find pleasing. Grain isn’t really too present minus in one or two sequences (I noticed a bit in the alley shot where Evan is being held up). There is a bit of “3-D” pop in some of the outdoor scenes (check the scene with Abel and Evan walking behind the mother). Some of the characters tend to have a somewhat pale look to them (in particular Bentley) so I can’t completely say whether or not the fleshtones were adjusted to compensate for the film’s theme. Detail is somewhat good with a few close ups showcasing an image of no distortion. The film’s print is in generally fine condition with no instance of bleeding colors, smearing, print damage or real overall noise. This is a fine image presentation earning a “4 Star Rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Akin to most titles in this genre, “The Last Word” relies mostly on a heavy frontal mix. Dialogue is recorded fine with no drop out or even no real need to play with the volume (minus during one of the closing sequences). Dynamics are fairly flat with no real instance of the rears displaying any real discrete effects (with the slight exception being the crowd at the party Evan and Charlotte attend). LFE is also absent minus the aforementioned scene and the closing ‘mountain’ shot (explosion). Similar to the recently reviewed “The Last Kiss“, the provided audio is fine for the genre but isn’t anything that great overall. This earns a fair “3 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in Standard Definition video using the MPEG-2 codec with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get 9min7sec of deleted scenes. The scenes are interesting and develop the characters a bit more.
- Production Stills Gallery: Here we get a series of production stills.
- Trailer: Here the film’s Theatrical Trailer is shown.
In closing the bonus materials are all too brief. I would have liked to see a commentary from any of the cast members including the director. Even though this is a bust, the film is quite good while the video and audio are solid for the genre. This merits a “Worth A Look” recommendation.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.