By: Trevor Chartrand
The debut film effort from the writer/director team Colin and James Krisel, Last Moment of Clarity is a very good try with plenty of room for improvement. The Krisel brothers attempt a Hitchcockian thriller akin to Gone Girl, involving a young man named Sam (Zach Avery) who, three years after witnessing his girlfriend’s death, discovers that she is still alive. Under threat for witnessing mob activity, the girl Sam knew as Georgia (Samara Weaving) now goes by Lauren Clerk, an up and coming actress, having faked her own death to protect herself from the mafia.
Even ignoring the fact that someone on the run would not pursue an acting career that puts them in the public eye, the plot of the film is still littered with logic flaws throughout. The story is slow-paced and lacks originality, and the film’s meandering nature does not offer a whole lot of engagement to the viewer. There’s potential for a good narrative here, in fact similar films have taken this kind of premise in very unique and interesting directions, but unfortunately Last Moment of Clarity doesn’t have much to offer that we haven’t seen before.
Notably, the film is very drab, unwavering, and dry. Even as a moody thriller, a film needs heart, or at the very least levity to keep its palette from going stale. Last Moment of Clarity is just a series of down notes; a gloomy mess without much positivity to grasp at.
The life and humor this film is lacking could have easily been inserted into the project had the Krisel brothers utilized the full potential of their energetic and comedic cast. In one corner, they had comedy veteran Brian Cox on hand, playing with his natural Scottish accent. He simply sits behind a bar and cleans dishes in this film, offering vague and cliché life advice to our protagonist. The film also features Samara Weaving, an actress with fine-tuned over-the-top comedic chops as well (see the action-packed blast Gun’s Akimbo). The closest we get to any form of comedic relief that’s actually in the film is the sharp attitude of a character named Kat, played by Mr. Robot’s Carly Chaikin. Of course her character motivations are way out of whack though, when she decides to put herself in danger for no reason other than to be a love interest. Her character has no stakes in the story and no reason to get involved. The film does make attempts to address this issue with throwaway dialogue (“Why are you helping me?”), but these lines draw attention to the problem rather than actually solving it.
To be clear, discussing the comedic talents of the cast is not to suggest Last Moment of Clarity should have been a hilarious comedy. This is a dark thriller, as it should be – but even a thriller needs a little variety. The completed picture is too one-note, too lifeless, and dreary for audiences to connect with. The actors on this call sheet have all proven themselves as incredible performers at one time or another so, to me, this speaks volumes about the director’s inexperience and their failure to breathe life into these characters.
The cinematography and overall look of the film will not help to draw audiences in either. The film is frequently shot with dark, flat angles, and edited in long, slow takes. There’s not a whole lot of interest to look at. The combination of a slow pace, the one-note performances, and flat, dark camerawork makes for, unfortunately, a pretty boring looking film lacking in narrative and character logic. Overall, the film is a good effort and has its moments, but for the most part is just a stockroom full of wasted potential.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor