Lonely librarian Kenji (Tadanobu Asano) and forlorn schoolgirl Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak) are inextricably bound after a shocking traffic accident, and together they lounge around her apartment quietly ruminating on their chance encounter. “This is bliss,” reads an existential note written by Kenji, who spends much of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe concocting seemingly motivation-less suicide scenarios. The clean-freak Kenji tells the slovenly Noi that he can’t return to his apartment because there are “two dead people inside.” She thinks he’s joking (he’s not), but he could be talking about himself and this bereft young girl he speaks to in two or three different tongues (who’s counting anyway?). She’s getting ready to leave for Osaka. He’s being pursued by yakuzas (one played by Japanese schlockmeister Takashi Miike). Together they wait for something, anything to happen. As photographed by the greatest cinematographer in our known universe, Christopher Doyle, this Thai love story seemingly evokes what life must be like inside a scarcely populated snow globe. For optimum etherealism, space and time is shaken up (the film’s title doesn’t even appear on the screen until some 30 minutes in) so that the past and the future exist at the same time. The cinematic equivalent of Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Last Life in the Universe isn’t so much weightless as it is liable to inspire weightlessness. Like any good mood piece, it’s best to be in the mood for it. Now, can someone pass whatever Noi is smoking?
- Palm Pictures
- 104 min
- Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
- Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Prabda Yoon
- Tadanobu Asano, Sinitta Boonyasak, Laila Boonyasak, Yutaka Matsushige, Riki Takeuchi, Takashi Miike, Yoji Tanaka, Sakichi Satô, Thiti Rhumorn
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: