One could be forgiven for thinking Abel Ferrara had been somewhat unproductive of late. One quick glance at Wikipedia or IMDb will tell you otherwise but it seems none of his recent works have gotten much of a release.
His newest, ‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’ has fared a little better then, in becoming available to the masses, and it’s about the end of the world.
Unlike a lot of apocalypse movies there is no action here, no heroics and last effort to stop the impending Armageddon. Everyone knows that the world will end at 4:44 am (media reports discuss it) but no-one can do anything about it and no-one appears to be trying to.
The film takes place almost entirely within one New York apartment, where a middle aged actor (Willem Dafoe) and his younger artist girlfriend reside. They spend the day doing nothing much out of the ordinary. They talk, share a lengthy sex scene (uncomfortably filmed in extreme close ups), order take-out food, and eventually argue. She continues with her painting and he spends lots of time on Skype. They both seem, like the rest of the world, to have accepted their fate. Indeed a lot of everyday activities seem to still be going on in the brief glimpses we get of the outside city.
Unfortunately, none of this in particularly interesting to watch, and it is all interspersed with a large amount of archive footage, mostly of spiritual leaders discussing matters of life and death, good and evil etc, trying to add some depth to the film.
Like the similarly themed ‘Melancholia’, despite its apocalypse setting it is not really a science fiction film at all, just a study of how some select people would act in their final hours. It’s a scenario than could be applied to countless characters, and sadly, plenty of them would probably make for a better film than ‘4:44’s central couple.