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Last Life in the Universe by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Review)

The film moves with such quiet grace and sublimity that I found myself completely arrested throughout.
Last Life in the Universe

I’ve caught a number of films in Toronto’s theatres during my stay at the festival. However, I’ve also taken some time to go through my gracious host’s DVD collection, and have already discovered some future additions to my own collection (i.e. Spaced). After much cajoling and reminding, I finally sat down and watched Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe, which Chris reviewed quite awhile back.

This is an amazing film, and like Lost in Translation and In the Mood for Love, takes a powerful look at lonely characters and their attempts to find some sort of connection in the world. It’s a sometimes surreal film — one of the main characters constantly imagines ways to kill himself, and the other has pot-influenced visions of her house being cleaned — but it moves with such quiet grace and sublimity that I found myself completely arrested throughout. This isn’t a film you watch so much as absorb, quirks and all.

One thing really helping that notion is the music, which is some of the most perfect film music I’ve heard in a long time. The soft tones and rhythms perfectly complement the tentativeness of the film’s burgeoning relationship. Watching it this afternoon, with the light from sunset filtering in through the blinds, I felt myself slipping into one of my favorite film viewing modes, in which the film becomes a waking dream that you just seem to be wandering through.

As of the right now, the DVD is only available as an Asian import. But the good folks at Palm Pictures are releasing the film domestically in 2005, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

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