Last words ●
by Jonathan Nossiter
Franco-Italian film, 2:06
2084. The end of humanity evoked at all times, particularly since the beginning of the XXIe century, is there. On a planet that has become a desert, wander survivors in the grip of barbarism. Adolescents ” without past or future », Kal and his sister live in a ruined Paris. Refugees in what remains of a film enthusiast’s apartment, they learn to read thanks to a learning book for children and find film rolls from Bologna. When his sister is brutally murdered by younger people than them, Kal decides to go to the Italian city.
In 2014, Jonathan Nossiter signed Natural resistance, a documentary as crazy as it is exciting on Italian wine growers committed to biodynamics. Having become a farmer, the filmmaker returns with an ambitious post-apocalyptic story in which his obsessions with the ecological disaster caused by human activity and the need to keep cinema alive are found.
The last projector for the ultimate spectators
After a tedious journey, Kal arrives at the Bologna Cinematheque where he meets an old man named Shakespeare who watches over the film reels. This former director introduced him to the magic of the 7e art. A moving friendship is born between them where the transmission of a culture that uplifts is played out. Together, they take the last searchlight to Athens where a handful of survivors have gathered that a devoted doctor fails to save from a deadly respiratory infection outbreak. It is Kal, the last survivor of Earth in 2086, who tells the story of humanity’s last days in front of the camera built with Shakespeare.
If the substance of the discourse on the link between environmental collapse and a barbarism that despises culture may be of interest, it is obviously lacking in nuance. And even while playing “It looked like” and watching Last Words like a fable, the film suffers cruelly from an involuntary grotesque. Like those road signs that dot the desert, very practical for finding Bologna and Athens. Or the heaviness with which the message of a humanist and saving cinema is delivered in front of which the ghostly ultimate survivors find a semblance of humanity. The completely honorable play of Kalipha Touray, a young 19-year-old Gambian refugee, who makes his screen debut, and the presence of Nick Nolte, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård and Alba Rohrwacher fail to save the film from the disaster.