Last Exit DVD Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Last Exit Productions
Written and directed by David Noel Burke
2003, Region 0 (PAL), 97 Minutes, Not rated
Morten Vogelius as Nigel
Jette Philipsen as Maria
Gry Bay as Tanya
Peter Ottesen as The President
Nicholas Sherry as Jimmy
The movie follows the exploits of Nigel (Morten Vogelius), a guy down on his luck and on the run from his criminal past in England. Now living in a crummy Copenhagen apartment with his wife Maria (Jette Philipsen), he is desperate for work to earn a living and pay off the moneylenders who hound him constantly.
Through a barfly aquaintance, Nigel makes contact with a company run by a mysterious character known only as 'The President' (Peter Ottesen). During his first meeting with his new employers, Nigel gets a hint of what he's got himself into when another 'employee' is dragged kicking and screaming into a back room for some impromptu optical surgery...with a spoon. His first job seems like easy money; store some boxes at his apartment for The President until "the heat cools down". How can anything go wrong?
While working for The President, Nigel meets and begins a potentially explosive affair with one of The president's prostitutes, the gorgeous Tanya (Gry Bay). Things are good for a while, the sex with Tanya is the best that Nigel's ever had, but Maria is growing suspicious about his frequent late nights. As the intensity of the affair increases Nigel can no longer cope and threatens to leave Tanya, but this news sends her into an emotional rage and she attempts to kill herself. Throughout his downward spiral, the only person who seems to understand Nigel's angst is the philosophical drug dealer Jimmy (Nicholas Sherry) who offers advice which only falls on deaf ears.
Meanwhile Maria, struggling with her own drug habit, finds out she is pregnant with Nigel's baby and sees the event as the turning point in her life. She plans to kick her habit and, along with Nigel's new found earnings, sort out her troubled existence. But Nigel is under so much strain from his situation, he is in no mood to be lumbered with further responsibility. Something snaps inside him and he launches into an assault on everyone who traps him in his world of pain.
For a low budget movie (approximately $1,500), Last Exit is a very polished finished article. The grainy look of the DV source matches the gritty Copenhagen underworld it documents, from the dank alleyways where drug deals are carried out, to the earthy bars where Nigel passes his time. The film is firmly in the psychological drama genre, rather than pure horror and on this level it falls down somewhat.
Much of the running time is made up of dialogue and character development which, while necessary, goes overboard in order to clock up feature length minutes. There is much black humour running through the story, especially when Jimmy starts off on one of his dope-fueled musings, but after a while I found myself switching off from the constant oration. The actors, for the most part, are native Danes speaking English. While they do a great job for independent filmmakers, the performances aren't quite strong enough to carry the dialogue heavy story.
There is some fantastic camerawork, and some very impressive sequences which show that director David Noel Burke has great potential. The sequence which juxtaposes Tanya's lapdance for Nigel with The President's henchman's eye removal is sheer class. And the sex scene between Tanya and Nigel, where psychedelic patterns are projected onto their undulating bodies, makes the viewer feel like they're on some kind of viagra fuelled acid trip.
The film is technically very good, and for a minute budget achieves a hell of a lot in terms of creating a very unique visual style. I just found the characters less than engaging and the long dialogues did more to turn me off the film than keep me rooted to my chair. It is a very ambitious task to shoot a full length feature on a budget of only $1500, but in terms of showcasing the director's obvious talent it succeeds brilliantly.
A word of praise must also go to the score, which is largely original indie/electro/rock tracks which suit the tone and mood of the story very well. One of the songs on the score is written and performed by Gry Bay who plays Tanya. If only a little editing could have tightened up the pace of the film, this would rank as a worthy independent stab at an edgy underworld drama.
Video and Audio:
This is a PAL Region 0 Screener DVD-R. The picture is a little grainy and the colours are slightly muted. The film takes place mostly at night, and some of the shadowy scenes are difficult to make out. The movie is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
English 2 Channel stereo which is poorly balanced, one minute the volume needs to be turned up to hear the mumbled dialogue, the next it's being turned down to stop the speakers blowing up when a loud noise occurs.
Trailer (This is only a screener disc after all)
|– Shows much promise, but too wordy.
|– Good transfer and quality, but a little too dark in places.
|– Lets the film down with a poor balance.
|– Just a trailer on this screener disc.
|– David Noel Burke shows some great potential with this movie and, although I wasn't blown away by it,I'll look forward to his future work.