The Last Earthling
Credits: Directed by Gian Alfonso Pacinotti and starring Luca Marinelli, Roberto Herlitzka, Anna Bellato, Teco Celio, Ugo De Cesare, Nicola De Paola, Vincenzo Illiano, Sara Rosa Losilla, Paolo Mazzarelli, Ermanna Montanari and Gabriele Spinelli.
Details: 100 mins, Italy,
Synopsis: As the world awaits the arrival of extra-terrestrials, Luca Bertacci (Gabriele Spinelli) goes about his mundane existence working as a waiter at a bingo hall in Pisa and spying on his beautiful neighbour, Anna (Anna Bellato). Abandoned at an early age by his mother, Luca is a lonely, single woman-hater whose only friend is Roberta (Luca Marinelli), a transsexual prostitute he has known since childhood. As the aliens begin to land, everything in his sad life begins to fall apart – some, surprisingly, for the better as Luca is forced to examine the limited relationships in his life.
Cynical sci-fi challenges viewers.
The Last Earthling finds its surest footing with sly, strong laughs and dark drama
ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL: Gian Alfonso Pacinotti’s challenging sci-fi parable The Last Earthling is rich in that brand of bleak, simmering quirkiness that arthouse crowds lap up but mainstream ones find confounding.
A study in outsider frustration set against the backdrop of an impending alien arrival, the tone of this odd but compelling work recalls Mike Cahill’s mumblecore sci-fier Another Earth and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, and reflects the minimalist aesthetics that have become synonymous with the current Greek ‘Weird’ Wave (Dogtooth; Attenberg). These comparisons should in no way detract from the debutant writer-director’s own strong style or voice, both of which were honed under the pseudonym ‘Gipi’, creator of some of Europe’s most striking comic book art and graphic novels.
One’s emotional investment will likely depend on how much you engage with the protagonist, Luca. Played with an unappealing physicality and thinly-veiled misogynistic streak by the terrific Gabriele Spinelli, Luca is a loner who holes up in a sparse apartment and is unable to escape the constant glare of the white light of day (his blinds are broken). Alienated from his bullying, vulgar workmates and too repressed to muster the courage to talk to his pretty neighbour, Anna (Anna Bellato), Luca seems not at all perturbed by the imminent arrival of an intergalactic species. He finds some comfort in the company of transvestite friend Roberta (Luca Marinelli) and spends dutiful time with his father (Roberto Herlitzka). His life meanders from one meagre duty to another as his growing awareness at his own unimportance slowly wears down his calm visage.
The film’s first act seems unsure of how to meld the disparate sci-fi and character elements, but the introduction of a death motif (Anna’s cat is found dead; a key character suffers a horrible demise) provides Pacinotti’s story with a fresh potency. When a female alien (Sara Rosa Losilla as the classic ‘short-grey’ type, with bulbous head and black eyes) arrives at his father’s farm, The Last Earthling finds its surest footing with sly, strong laughs and dark drama, as the alien assumes the role of both live-in help and the old man’s new squeeze, and secrets are revealed.
The filmmaker doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of humanity and it may be this bitter sense of cynicism that will keep some viewers from fully enjoying this unique work. There is a sense that should the aliens want to inherit this shallow, immoral mess of a culture...well, they are welcome to it. This nihilistic view could have made for a dire film in the hands of a less-assured filmmaker, but Pacinotti seems entirely at ease. With his leading man very much in tune, he captures the funny and the sad and skilfully melds it into fresh fantasy.
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