The Living End

The Living End


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

The Living End was writer/director Gregg Araki’s calling card which put him on the map as an ‘indie darling’. It arrived to a very mixed response on its 1992 release, with some proclaiming it a work of art, an angry in your face feature from a film-maker with something to say who demanded your attention, while others cited it as a work of immaturity. Dubbed the gay Thelma And Louise, The Living End is the story of Luke (Mike Dytri) and Jon (Craig Gilmore) who meet under unconventional circumstances when Luke kills a homophobic cop. Both men are gay, HIV positive and from very different worlds - Luke is a drifter, who lives his life carefree whereas timid writer John is a pessimist - but who's to say opposites don't attract, as both decide to embark on a road-trip together with one aim: "to fuck everything".

I first came across Araki's world when I saw The Doom Generation (1995), another trashy cult road-movie where the characters aren’t content with the world they live in who have something to say and the only way to get through is to deliver their message using extreme violence.

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When originally released, it put Araki right at the forefront of hot young directors to watch out for. Made on a shoestring of $20,000 as a piece of film-making its remarkable. Impressively shot and pulling no punches, its a good example of risk-taking, independent film, that could best be described as a punk, in-your-face response to the culture of the time.

The main problem, however, is the acting, which is mediocre at best and the fact that neither character is likeable or fleshed out. Luke's only real main concern is to either look cool dangling his unlit cigarette from his mouth or to massacre people with gay abandon. The writing is poor and plays mainly on shock-value, while the story veers off to nowhere and concludes in a manner that can be seen from a mile off.

This film will only appeal to Araki fans who wish to discover his roots.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2009
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The Living End packshot
People with HIV, from very different backgrounds, go on the run.
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Director: Gregg Araki

Writer: Gregg Araki

Starring: Mike Dytri, Craig Gilmore, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, Johanna Went

Year: 1992

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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