Thursday, March 10, 2011

#79: The Last Word


The Last Word is a 2008 romantic comedy written and directed by Geoffrey Haley. I like these guys who write and direct their own movies- there's something puritanical about this breed. For one, the reins of the movie lies completely with the original visionary of the story. Sabotage of any creative kind by any other person on the film set can hence be practically overruled. The writer wrote it and he directed it. Over the years men like Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Charlie Chaplin, Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa have brought great credit to this breed. Geoffrey Haley might be far from this elite list but suffice to say he has taken the first assured steps towards this end. Given that he has also been on camera and electrical department of movies such as The Hangover also means that he brings a wealth of experience to the table.

The movie is the story of Evan (Wes Bentley), an expert suicide-note writer and Charlotte (Winona Ryder), whose brother Matt's suicide note was written by Evan. In a chance meeting at Matt's burial, Evan and Charlotte get talking and Charlotte takes an instant liking to Evan. Reluctant at first, the quite and shy Evan gets drawn to the bubbly Charlotte after a couple of dates. In a harmless moment, Evan ends up lying to her that he had met Matt at Cornell. In the meantime Evan is also helping music composer Abel (Ray Romano) write his last words before he takes the death plunge. Through a screenplay that's as cheerful as depressing at times, Geoffrey Haley takes us a journey where the viewer is ultimately told as to whether Evan and Rachel continue their relationship and whether Abel ends up commiting suicide.

At 94 minutes the movie's pace is a breeze. This is a story about Evan the writer and what happens around him. Wes Bentley does well with his turn as the introvert Evan and sits easy in his role. While Winona Ryder has a soothing presence throughout with her pretty looks, Ray Romano's cameo is nothing short of brilliant. He has got lines after lines to keep you laughing. The fact that he is a depressed composer on the verge of taking his own life adds to the humor. His meetings with Wes Bentley border on the hilarious.

The Last Word is a delightfully easy movie to watch with a quirky ending. It takes something brave to not go down the tried and tested method of a romantic comedy and that quirky touch by Geoffrey Haley keeps the movie a notch above some of the run-of-the-mill stuff you get to see in movies like When in Rome and The Ugly Truth. A good romantic comedy should have an eye-pleasing couple, a comic actor who can come up with funny lines and an ending that should make it unique. My 'Last Word' in this review is that it delivers on all those three counts.

Rating: 7/10