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Last Time I Committed Suicide, The

Universal // R // September 13, 2005
List Price: $12.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Svet Atanasov | posted December 25, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Film:

I don't quite know how much of a good thing it is to make a film about the Beat Generation with all of its eccentric writers, edgy novels, and crazy stories but…here it is…I am holding in my hands Stephen T. Kay's ambitious The Last Time I Committed Suicide (1997), a moody little piece of cinema based on a famous letter which Neal Cassady, one of the true Beat icons, sent to Jack Kerouac before he completed his famous "On The Road" (1957). An era full of free thinkers, unbridled spirits, and perhaps quite a few souls ready to follow a movement without an acknowledged leader these were the times when everything was possible.

The Last Time I Committed Suicide follows a fragment of Neal Cassady's (Thomas Jane) life where the enigmatic beat-star is faced with some difficult decisions-to choose the love of his life or, embark on a journey his heart is aching for. Surrounded by his spiritual friends Harry (Keanu Reeves) and Ben (Adrien Brody) Neal desperately tries to forget about Joan (Claire Forlani), a beautiful girl he obviously cares for, yet life as ironic as it is relentlessly pushes him back into her arms. It's decision time…

As I mentioned above I find it odd that anyone would have the guts to make a film about the Beat Generation. Not because I do not believe that a good film depicting the Beat era can be assembled but because I always thought that anything Beat should be presented in a literary form. With other words if you wanted to experience what the Beat writers lived for then you should probably do some research and read a book or two instead of waiting on a single film to reveal their mystery. Somehow I am not convinced that the words of these truly remarkable individuals can be successfully replaced with film captures. Albeit, this is what The Last Time I Committed Suicide aspires to do.

Despite of its beautiful imagery and a hypnotizing soundtrack by the likes of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk Stephen T. Kay's The Last Time I Committed Suicide remains one too moody yet too pretentious film which does indeed feel like a late night cable production with a surprisingly good cast. There are occasional moments when the magic film directors look for happens but as a whole The Last Time I Committed Suicide left me unconvinced of its purpose. If not for the linear notes announcing that this was a film meant to recreate the Beat Times one would certainly get the idea that The Last Time I Committed Suicide was plotted as the latest artsy sequel to the popular Swingers (1996).

To spare us from falling victims of this beautiful snooze-fest Stephen T. Kay has cooked up a controversial scene where Neal's girlfriend Joan slits her wrists in an attempt to commit suicide. But why? As it appears this was supposed to be the true moment of revelation for Neal, but I guess just as I did he missed it, because after a short soul-searching the heartthrob left his loved one contemplating her miserable deed in a hospital far and away. O, what a tragedy!

If not for the excellent cast which certainly must have had a great time shooting this picture and some beautiful but forgettable camera work The Last Time I Committed Suicide does not have much to brag about. Slow, hardly original, and lacking a great deal as far as character development is concerned this film veers off in a completely different from the originally intended direction. Instead of a fitting tribute to one of the most enigmatic Beat characters The Last Time I Committed Suicide certainly feels like a prolonged episode of Friends where everyone appreciates jazz, literature, and free love.

How Does the DVD Looks?

Upon placing Universal's shiny little disc into my DVD player I was greeted with a strange announcement which I thought was a thing of the past: "This Film Has Been Modified to Fit Your Screen". Now that we are living in an era when TV screens come in all shapes and forms I am impressed that someone actually attempted to match the size of my screen. Thanks's but…no thank's!! I'd rather do that myself hence next time you Universal want to surprise me please provide the film in its original aspect ratio and I'll do the rest. Aside from that the picture quality was rather decent. Tones looked acceptable, contrast at a satisfactory level, and the film print did not exhibit any overly distracting faults.

How Does the DVD Sound?

With a standard English 2.0 track with optional English (HOH), Spanish, and French subtitles the audio presentation is nothing to write home about. An average affair which most of you will be satisfied with should you choose to give this film a chance.


There is not a single extra to be found on this DVD whatsoever.

Final Words:

Despite of a cast that I actually quite liked The Last Time I Committed Suicide is one ongoing snooze-fest which judging by the lackluster DVD treatment Universal provided even its owners were not impressed with. If you have plenty of time to waste and you are not disturbed by the fact that someone else has decided how you should see your films (chopped) then by all means give this duff a rent. Otherwise, if looking to learn more about the Beat Generation I recommend you read a book or two…you will be much better off, trust me!!

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