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DVD Review: ‘The Living Wake’

★☆☆☆☆

On occasion, a film sneaks out on release which really leaves you wondering why it even exists. Sol Tryon’s The Last Wake (2007) – starring Mike O’Connell and Jesse Eisenberg – an (apparently) darkly comic chronicle of a young man’s last day before he dies, is one such film. Frankly, after watching it, if you’re not already dying you’ll probably wish you were.

For his final day on Earth, self-proclaimed artist and genius K. Roth Binew (O’Connell) goes on a tour of his old haunts in order to say goodbye to his various friends and acquaintances. With his trusty sidekick Mills (Eisenberg) as chauffeur, Binew sets off in a bicycle rickshaw, encountering various bizarre characters and situations culminating in his own grand send-off cast adrift on a river like some firey Lady of Shallot.

Last year, CineVue reviewed Dominic Perez’s Evil Things (2009), stating that filmmakers had a duty to produce something at least interesting if they expected the public to part with their hard-earned cash to see it. The Living Wake goes one better, as it is not only uninteresting, but its narrative also makes no logical sense whatsoever. Having finished watching the film, you’re likely to be left with one overriding question – “What on earth was that?”

If you have to take it upon yourself to proclaim yourself a genius, it’s usually a safe bet that you’re not. Like the character of Binew – who spouts pretentious gibberish at those unfortunate enough to cross his path – The Living Wake is full of verbose statements, when in actuality it contains very little content. Despite a bizarre scene in a woodland restaurant and a flaming lake-bound climax – both of which undoubtedly had potential on paper – neither can save Tyron’s film from losing itself within its own grandiose self-belief.

In Douglas Hickox’s horror classic Theatre of Blood (1973) Joan Hickson’s Mrs. Sprout exclaims to her theatre critic husband Horace (Arthur Lowe) after seeing a frankly awful play that, “it was incomprehensible rubbish, and you know it” – there is perhaps no better epitaph for the ill-fated The Last Wake.

Cleaver Patterson