The Last Time (2006)
9/10
The closer you look...
17 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
~Possible Spoilers herein~

The Last Time represents a dramatic character reversal, inevitably a character study, as opposed to just another independent feature.

From the get-go, you don't really like Keaton's (Ted), the cocky, sarcastic, ambitious, and, worst of all, always right salesman. He knows all about his trade; what he's doing, and how he's doing it. Each moment we spend with him, however, we come to understand his nature. We dig to find his personal flaws, that which built the man portrayed before us.

In the opposite, we have Fraser (Jaime), a green salesman who was big news in his small town, then comes the big city. We've seen this formula before, true, but Brendan has always been able to lose the veracity of himself in his character. You could compare this to the way he interviews, and his commentary on The Mummy DVD. In fact, you tend to feel sorry for him in this particular role.

Finally, you have Valletta (Belisa), a housewife in complete support of her husband, going so far as to move to the big city with him so he may accomplish dreams so grand (hopes to start a family notwithstanding).

This is all well and fine, but think when you watch of how you feel toward them in the beginning versus how you end up feeling about them.

Ted turns out to be a very brilliant, but troubled, individual who's sole purpose in this job is not to crush others but actually to make as much money as possible. He was a professor, you see, highly successful at it due to his intelligence, but not altogether wealthy (a reason his wife decided to up and leave him). This chain of events propelled our man to move to the big city and prove his worth in this world. He attacks the forefront of sales under the disguise of confidence, but the soul of pain. Taking what he wants seems a primary motive, at first, until he meets Belisa, who renews in him that sense of purity and living. Though they begin and live an affair throughout, it would seem as true love. Ted, finally, is able to open up to someone and give his personality, not that guise that has guided him to her.

Which brings us to Belisa, who fronts the lie of a happy housewife. Her Jaime is focused on doing his best, but is failing miserably. So, his work stalks him in his personal life, hitting her full swing with the loss of love, and a renewed seek of interest. Enter Ted, that sure-of-himself professional who takes charge where needed. Thus, we begin the affair.

Back to Jaime, who we define as weak and afraid throughout. Someone, like I said before, we feel sorry for from the beginning primarily because we have all been there (starting out and not altogether sure of how). His lack of interest in his wife causes her to run to the arms of another man, and it seeps through as he knows she's going behind his back, but never to whom. He finds a fatherly figure in Ted, think of a son attempting all he can to win his father's respect, but never learned enough to do so. With the guilt of the affair, Ted feels sorry for the young man, and so assists him in any way possible.

This, again, is a fairly typical formula, but as I said, each character takes a complete 180 near the end.

We find Ted a poet by heart, and actually feel sorry for what happens to him. We find Jaime a conniving opportunist who knows full well how to manipulate others, and Belisa becomes the embodiment of (if this were a spy novel) a femme fatal.

I will not to spoil how this comes to light, as not to be the purpose of this review.

My intent is to give potential viewers a fair realization of what The Last Time is truly about, not what the surface will have you believe. If you walk into this thinking the overall production will be spectacular, disappointment will ensue. The music is not very well synthesized, the cinematography is average at best (but gets the point across), and the dialogue could've used a bit of strengthening.

However, the direction is remarkable, the characters believable and full circle, and the story is superb in terms of originality. Keaton and Fraser deliver Ted and Jaime in such a way that you forget they are acting after only a bit of time (in my opinion, Keaton begins in character and never ends, whereas Fraser had moments of similarity to his other works {although quite remarkable, nonetheless}), while Valletta gives a rich performance.

And, as I preemptively mentioned, all of these characters (including the supporting players {Daniel Stern especially}) oppose their first impression, which is how life really works this day in age. Actions govern personality, and vice versa.

Rent this when you are ready to watch a character study, along with clever storytelling, not when you want to see overly dramatic play upon your TV screen. For that, I recommend you start watching Lifetime or a good percentage of movie channel (HBO, Showtime, etc) original series.
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