The Last Word

The Last Word


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Evan Merck (Wes Bentley) has a curious vocation. He writes famous last words for potential suicides. He also has a penchant for going to the funerals of his clients. At one of these he is spotted by the deceased's sister, Charlotte (Winona Ryder), who wants to know why he is there. He tells her that he and her brother attended university together. In fact, Evan composed the speech, purportedly written by the brother, and read out at his funeral. Charlotte becomes fascinated by Evan, who speaks in poetical quotes, and is determined to bring him out of his shell.

Before you can say Ralph Waldo Emerson, the two are becoming an item and trying to find common ground between her extrovert personality and his quiet, literary introspection. As time passes, the two form an attachment that will be ultimately complicated by the veneer of lies invented by Evan to hide his real relationship with Charlottes' brother and his morbid calling. Meanwhile, he continues his work for a variety of terminal cases. In order to write one of his epitaphs, he has to spend time getting to know his subject and Abel (Ray Romano), a maliciously gloomy composer, is proving to be a tough nut to crack, which leads to another odd friendship.

Copy picture

Romantic comedies seem to be in vogue at Sundance this year. The Last Word is a worthy, if ultimately flawed, example. Familiar situations are the order of the day. Chalk and cheese personalities are thrown together and must overcome some ordeal, which is normally an old flame, but in this case the convoluted deception employed by Evan to disguise his day job. Familiar

Ryder makes the screen glow every time she appears, but Bentley, all eyebrows and glower, is not as appealing, mostly because, for someone so smart, he is such a dumbass.

Comic relief is provided by Romano's character, a composer of “music to commit mass murder by”, telling-it-like-it-is and “enjoying” what is left of his life with malicious glee. He must have been a fan of Esther Rantzen's That's Life, as his pet project is to allow the public to terminate-with-extreme-prejudice wayward appliances.

Will the course of love run true? Will the composer get an epilogue he can die with? Will Charlotte figure out what it is that Evan does for a living? All this and more will be revealed in The Last Word.

Oh, and boys, if you have secrets to hide, don't leave your key on top of the door frame.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2008
Share this with others on...
The Last Word packshot
The love life of a man with a morbid calling.

Director: Geoffrey Haley

Writer: Geoffrey Haley

Starring: Wes Bentley, Winona Ryder, Ray Romano, Brent Miller, Alison Moir, Jill Sayre, Allan Rich, Kurt Caceres, Mickey Mickey

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2008

Search database:

Related Articles:

Sundance 2008: Day Three