The end of the world is an interesting subject to tackle on film. It can be looked at one of three ways. There is the bleak, miserable outlook that sees the end as just nothingness after a global disaster. There is the upbeat, hopeful outlook that something better is waiting on the other side when the world ends and then there is the gray in between that relies on the notion that “it is what it is”. There is nothing to worry about, just remain calm, stay close to your loved ones and all will be fine. This viewpoint is what the main characters of 4:44 Last Day on Earth possess and they pull it off rather beautifully.
4:44 follows a hip Manhattan couple during the last few hours they and everyone else have until the end of the world to be caused by a rapidly diminishing ozone layer. The couple consists of Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and Skye (Shanyn Leigh). Cisco is an actor and Skye paints. They occupy a cool apartment on the Lower East Side and are madly in love with one another. Scientists and the government have predicted and are now anticipating the apocalypse and the people of the world have nothing left to do but wait for the inevitable which will occur at 4:44 AM.
Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spider-Man) delivers another rich and emotional performance. With his strange looks and his unique voice, the man is certainly a talented thespian. Here, he plays a sensitive artist who wants nothing more than to spend his last moments on Earth with the woman he so dearly loves. Shanyn Leigh (Public Enemies, Go Go Tales) is rather bland as Cisco’s love, Skye. She doesn’t really show emotion let alone any mutual affection for Cisco. This is truly disappointing since she is a pretty girl but not much of an actress.
One of the more positive aspects of 4:44 is the direction and lighting. There are lots of black, blue and grays in most of the shots. It’s not dreary, it’s just simply dark and this is extremely symbolic of the emotions the characters possess. The world is ending and the citizens of Earth can’t do a damn thing about it. They feel either trapped or calm. The blue signifies hopelessness and the gray signifies the mentality of “it is what it is”. Director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, King of New York) has painted a lovely picture here. Each shot tells volumes and the pacing feels very real and gritty. The premise is plausible and the filmmaking really allows the story to take flight.
The independent nature of this film is what makes it an above average flick. It feels real and that is a quality few mainstream films possess. The characters and dialogue feel genuine and that is a very refreshing thing. That plus the end of the world scenario, things really go in the right direction. 4:44 is not a disaster film by any means. It is a human drama which explores emotions, actions and hope.
With a classy actor like Willem Dafoe leading the charge, 4:44 is a film worthy of your attention. There is backstory touched on in one scene involving drug use which is very realistic. The love scenes are somewhat steamy and the dialogue flows magnificently. Now on Blu-ray, you can enjoy this cerebral film in crystal-clear high def. It isn’t a flashy film at all. It is classy and reserved, elegantly shot and acted quite nicely. It’s like Independence Day but instead of loads of CGI and over-the-top acting, there are real human characters who address their fears and thoughts in a deep, meaningful way. 4:44 Last Day on Earth is an honest and heartfelt film that is definitely worthy 82 minutes of your time.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for 4:44 Last Day on Earth consist of just a few trailers.