Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and released in its home country of Thailand in 2003.
“Many books say ‘Death is relaxing.’ Did you know that?”
Why is it that films about death always seem to be so beautiful? As bleak as it remains throughout its entire running film I think you’d be hard pressed to find another film in the entire bastion of cinema that remains as true to its ideas as this.
Kenji is a man seemingly obsessed with death, and when the Grim Reaper throws itself into his life it isn’t a singular event, it comes again and again and again. Thrust into his life through a miraculous chain of events that always seems to occur when he is on the brink of fulfilling his aforementioned obsession, is Noi. Noi is the opposite of everything Kenji is, and as an age old saying goes, “Opposites attract.” She is incredibly untidy, chain smokes like a chimney and brushes off any and all events as they happen (only for them to creep back in later); he is obsessed with cleanliness in a way that challenges even Howard Hughes, and attempts to find meaning in almost everything that happens. Fortunately this mismatch makes for the most compelling viewing.
The sheer audacity of the screenplay is one thing but the way in which everything falls into place makes it seem so real as if it could never have been written; by the end of the film you have no idea what is going to happen next, just like if you were one of the very characters in the film. To me, that is what cinema should be, the utmost representation of what life is; not an over-exaggeration made simply for the purpose of entertaining those who watch it.
Despite the incredible bleakness of it, Last Life In The Universe. is one of the most beautiful love stories ever made and I’m almost kicking myself for not having seen it until this moment but something tells me I was right to wait.