Cinema Libre // 2009 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // May 13th, 2010
One shot to get it right.
Jonathan Stokes undoubtedly put a lot of effort into The Last Hurrah. While it isn't a disaster, it lacks the punch to keep viewers fully engaged. The movie was filmed in one continuous shot; while that is certainly admirable, I personally would've preferred to watch a better story.
Set during a graduation party in Los Angeles, The Last Hurrah follows a bunch of philosophy students as they navigate the party grounds all while getting drunk, dancing around, looking back at their college years, and chatting about the future. The central characters are Jason, Steve, and Will, and for the most part, they talk about women.
While Jason is ready to score a chick at the party, Steve is having trouble keeping up with his energetic girlfriend. As for Will, he just doesn't know how to talk to women, even though there's one he truly fancies. As the evening progresses, we get to see these three individuals and their friends as they enjoy their freedom and party hard before going their separate ways.
I know this sounds like a great plot, and it really could've been an intriguing piece. Alas, it seems like Stokes spent more time trying to plan this whole single shot thing instead of focusing more on the script. The main problem I have with The Last Hurrah is the fact that it failed to pull me in. I didn't mind watching these characters walk around and chat at that on location for the first 20 minutes, but after that, it simply got to monotonous.
To be more specific, the movie lacks that sense of curiosity that make me want to keep watching. Hurrah is really supposed to be a comedy, but all in all, it's not very funny. The actors occasionally try to pull off a series of jokes, but they rarely succeed. I did end up smiling a couple of times, but that's it. Essentially, all we see and hear is a group of young people having philosophical conversations about life and pretty much everything else around it.
Now, even though the movie didn't work in terms of story, Stokes has some undeniable talent as a filmmaker. As an independent filmmaker myself, I know that pulling off a feature in one continuous take requires tons of planning and a whole lot of discipline. To tell you the truth, I would not be able to do it at this stage, and that's why I applaud Stokes for making this happen. Kudos also to his DP for generating a bunch of solid shots.
So yeah, as a cinematic experiment, this is one to watch for sure. Most of the actors deliver decent performances, although not all of them come across as natural enough. That said, hanging out on set and being recorded for 90 minutes straight requires some skills.
The DVD provides a transfer with a solid enough picture quality. The film has a rougher feeling to it, so the image doesn't need to be sharp all the way through. The colors look nice, though, and both picture and audio quality work just fine. No real complaints here.
Moving on to the special features, the disc includes some bloopers, as well as a short piece on blocking cast before the shoot. Also included are a few brief interviews with the actors, who chat about what it was like to shoot this flick. If you're interested in finding out more about how and why Stokes shot this, listen to the audio commentary. It's very informal, but it does provide a lot of information about the making of Hurrah.
I definitely came across some interesting elements in The Last Hurrah, but it's not a movie I would watch again. Technically, it's a solid indie film, but in terms of story, it lacks energy and variety. It's unfortunate, because I see a lot of talent in Stokes.
Guilty, but it's not as bad as it seems.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Libre
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated