Perhaps better presented as a short film or fleshed out into a half-decent stage production, 4:44 Last Day on Earth is Abel Ferrara’s barebones, superficial musing on the hypothetical “What would happen if everyone knew the world was ending”? (Think Don McKellar’s Last Night, only less Canadian.) Cisco (Willem Dafoe), an actor and former junkie, and Skye (Shanyn Leigh), his young artist girlfriend, await the disintegration of the ozone in just a few hours time, coping with their dire reality individually. She splatters paint on a canvas and changes her outfit every hour or two and he Skypes last goodbyes while watching the world’s final newscast, in which the anchor laments, “Al Gore was right.”
Ferrara, in part, wants his film to be a warning, a call to action aimed at mankind to help our deteriorating planet. The TV in Cisco and Skye’s apartment acts as the director’s voice, serving up a constant stream of “we warned you” interviews from the likes of the Dalai Lama and even Mr. Gore himself. The environmentalist angle doesn’t quite work for this apocalyptic film though. This story and these characters naturally gravitate toward themes of fear and acceptance, and Ferrara’s tree-hugger condemnations feel opportunistically slathered onto 4:44 Last Day on Earth, most excruciatingly during Cisco’s trippy meditative dream, which includes visions of himself viciously chopping down a tree in slow motion.