ⓘ Last Days (2005 film)

Last Days (2005 film)

ⓘ Last Days (2005 film)

Last Days is a 2005 American drama film directed, produced and written by Gus Van Sant. It is a fictionalized account of the last days of a musician, loosely based on Kurt Cobain. It was released to theaters in the United States on July 22, 2005 and was produced by HBO. The film stars Michael Pitt as the character Blake, based on Kurt Cobain. Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, Scott Patrick Green and Thadeus A. Thomas also star in the film. This is the first film from Picturehouse, a joint venture between Time Warners New Line Cinema and HBO Films subsidiaries to release art house, independent, foreign, and documentary films. The film received mixed reviews from critics. Though meant to be based on Kurt Cobain, it contradicts the factual evidence of Cobains final days.


1. Plot

A young musician named Blake sneaks out of a rehab clinic and walks home through a forest, also swimming through a lake then lighting a fire for the night. The next day, he gets home and changes his clothes. He walks around in the house with a shotgun pointing it at his sleeping roommates Scott, Luke, Asia, and Nicole. He is greeted by Yellow Pages representative Thadeus A Thomas who talks to him about placing an ad in the upcoming book. He receives a phone call from his record company telling him that he and his band have to do another tour and that it is important they make the booked dates, but Blake hangs up. He goes upstairs and falls asleep on the floor in one of the rooms. Asia awakes and finds him asleep as two boys arrive at the door. Scott and Luke answer the door and the two boys talk to them about their church down the street. Blake changes into different clothes and leaves the house for the shed outside as the Christian boys leave.

Scott, Luke, Asia, and Nicole leave and Blake goes back into the house. His friend Donovan and a private detective come to the house and Blake leaves as they look around the house for him. He waits for them to leave before he enters the house again. He messes with the guitars and drums putting them on loop with his vocals. He stops when his record executive Kim Gordon comes over and tries to have him leave with her but Blake refuses. Blake goes to a rock club that night where a friend of his comes up to him and tells him about how he went to a Grateful Dead concert. Blake leaves before his friend can finish telling the story. Blake goes back home where Scott takes some of his money and Luke asks help from Blake on a song.

Scott tells Luke that Donovan had a private detective with him and that they should leave. After Scott and Luke have sex with each other upstairs, Blake plays acoustic one last time before walking out to the shed where he sits quietly, watching his roommates leave. They spend the night at their friends house, and awake the next morning to see the news announcing that Blake committed suicide and an electrician found his body. Scott, Luke, and Nicole get in a car and leave, driving down a highway while Luke plays the guitar in the back seat.


2. Cast

  • Asia Argento as Asia
  • Harmony Korine as Guy in Club
  • Thadeus A. Thomas as Yellow Pages salesman
  • Michael Pitt as Blake
  • Ryan Orion as Donovan
  • Adam Friberg and Andy Friberg as Elders Friberg
  • Kim Gordon as Record executive
  • Ricky Jay as Detective
  • Nicole Vicius as Nicole
  • Lukas Haas as Luke
  • Rodrigo Lopresti as a member of the Band in Club
  • Scott Patrick Green as Scott

3. Relation to other Van Sant films

Last Days is the third and final installment in what Van Sant has frequently called his "Death Trilogy", which began with Gerry 2002 and continued with Elephant 2003. The dialogue and narration in all three films are minimal, and scenes do not proceed linearly. As in Elephant, scenes are revisited from new angles, starting at differing points in time, without a signal to viewers that the clock has been turned back and a previous scene is being revisited. In a later film, Paranoid Park 2007, Van Sant uses the same technique. Also as in the other films, many of the actors character names are the same as their actual first names.


4.1. Production Background

Van Sant has stated he had contemplated the project for nearly a decade. At one time, he wanted to do a biographical film about Cobain but decided against the idea out of concern over the potential of a lawsuit by Cobains widow, Courtney Love. Van Sant was unsure how Cobains fans and family would react to Last Days ; he spoke to Love several times over the years about his project and recently expressed his concern that it might be painful for her to see the film. Actress Asia Argento stated, "Its been written that I play Courtney Love, and its not true. Im so upset. I dont know why people say that. I feel very sorry for her. Shes been demonized and I feel sorry for anybody thats lost like that. But no, I play a character thats very dorky."


4.2. Production Music

Last Days features two original compositions by Michael Pitt: an acoustic song entitled "Death to Birth" and an electric jam called "Fetus". Lukas Haas composed another piece, "Untitled". Rodrigo Lopresti composed "Seen as None" and "Pointless Ride". The character Scott listens to "Venus in Furs" by The Velvet Underground. Blake, in one scene, watches the music video for "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men on television. "Venus in Furs" contains the lyric ".on bended knee". A soundscape piece called "Doors of Perception" "Turen der Wahrnehmung" was composed by Hildegard Westerkamp.


4.3. Production Filming

The film was shot in the Hudson Valley region of New York, which, due in part to cinematographer Harris Savides specialized treatment of the film stock, suggests the Pacific Northwest, where Van Sant is from.


5. Reception

Last Days received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 57% based on reviews from 120 critics. The sites consensus says, "While the minimalist style is not for all viewers, those who prefer experimentalism will find Last Days hypnotic." On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on reviews from 36 critics.

Leslie Felperin of Variety magazine wrote: "Result is dead-on depiction of the hedonistic rock lifestyle, punctuated by sequences of haunting beauty but also quasi-religious imagery that borders on tacky."


The film was entered in the 2005 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Technical Grand Prize. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography, but failed to win any awards at the festival.