The life of a woman is transformed after she is diagnosed with a terminal disease, fired from her job and abandoned by her boyfriend. Given two months to live, she throws caution to the wind to pursue her dreams.
Isaach De Bankolé,
Paz de la Huerta
Death in the Desert is a love triangle set in the fast-paced, sometimes lonely world of Las Vegas. The life of Kim Davis, the young live-in girlfriend of legendary casino owner Ray Easler, ... See full summary »
A young girl in Nevada becomes romantically involved with a female drifter who introduces her to a life of stripping, drugs, and metaphysical experiences that teach her what happens when real life catches up with dark fantasy.
Paz de la Huerta,
Santo, the movie's narrator, tells us he and his friends enjoy getting high. Although he is Caucasian (decribed as Puerto Rican at one point), he also has dreams where he is a slave who is branded and chased. His brother Benny, who had a different father and has distinctly darker skin, is demanding that Santo come and see their mother who has stage 4 breast cancer. Benny has a job. It's not clear how Santo makes a living.
Santo's friend Hunter, who based on his accent and the color of his skin seems to be African, is a successful artist. His paintings are being shown in galleries and his latest advance is $10,000, though he doesn't seem to be spending the money responsibly. His girlfriend Allie, who is white (though that's not important), feels safe with him though others think she'd be better off with someone else, or that she needs a father figure. It's not that Hunter is mean or anything. He's actually calm most of the time. But he seems to need to be high to get his inspiration, and those who appreciate his work think something is missing. The movie really seems to be more about Hunter than Santo, and I find myself wanting him to succeed as an artist but worried that something will happen.
On one occasion, Santo and his friends go to Nantucket for a party on a private plane with a professional pilot. And of course they're already high. This movie is not a comedy but it is funny at this point. As Santo explains, this is one of five days straight without sleep for him and the others. About halfway through the movie Santo falls asleep and wakes up 2 days later. This is what is known as "5 Up, 2 Down".
Santo seems to be a talented artist himself, but he doesn't seem to be sharing his talent with the world.
There is cheating going on (in stalls of what I assume are supposed to be single-gender bathrooms), but I won't say who, and what little violence the movie has seems to concern this cheating, though I'm not sure.
Meanwhile, will Santo and Benny ever reconcile, and will Santo see his mother in time? Will Hunter's career fall apart?
This is the sort of movie that critics seem to like, but I don't. There appear to be good performances by the leading actors. Isaach De Bankole really stands out, though I don't know if that's just the accent. I don't know enough about art to know, but Hunter's art seems to be good. We get to see how difficult the process is, though it's not as complex as it could have been.
People are using drugs almost constantly in some scenes. There is an effective scene where everything is speeded up as we watch people go in and out of a bathroom in what I can only assume is a restaurant, since we never see inside other than that bathroom. And most of what they do is snort or smoke. There are also the lesbians kissing.
And in some scenes, it is like watching digital TV with an antenna. But the frequent interruptions in the sound are accompanied not by stripes or other designs on the screen, but if the character speaking is shown, by that person's mouth being blurred. In one case I thought there was a serious technical problem. But apparently there were that many bad words right in a row.
A couple of actors playing the losers who are high really show us how bad a shape they are in. I'm thinking in particular of Paz de la Huerta as Allie. I'm not talking Oscar caliber, but you really start to worry about these people.
I'm not at all a fan of the music. There are many different styles, but I think all would qualify as Triple A Radio material, or close to it. Some tunes have kind of a new age feel, others lean toward Latin, and some are more like rock. If alternative or college radio is what you like, you might like it.
I think there's something worthwhile here.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?