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A reclusive, alcoholic paraplegic suffers through an unannounced visit from his concerned friends in The Last Day of August, Craig DiFolco’s drama about an intervention which will leave you feeling as if you’ve gone through one yourself. This static, talky effort ultimately doesn’t justify its feature-length running time despite some strong performances and the occasional moving moment.
Thirty-year-old Dan (Michael Izquierdo) has been holed up in an upstate New York cabin for over a year after becoming paralyzed under circumstances that are not revealed until late in the film. One day three of his friends (Sebastian Arcelus, Bill English, Vanessa Ray) from the city show up, concerned about his not returning home when he had promised. Disturbed by his reclusiveness and excessive drinking, they desperately attempt to persuade him to clean up his act.
Composed of one long, drawn-out emotional confrontation after another, the film suffers from both its lack of specificity—the screenplay withholds crucial details for long periods of time, resulting not so much in suspense than incomprehension—and its lack of compelling dialogue and characterizations. The depressed Dan largely sits in his wheelchair and silently mopes, while the friends offer the sort of general banalities you’d hear at a twelve-step program meeting.
To be fair, there are a few scenes that generate dramatic power, such as an encounter between Dan’s former fiancée (Ray) and his new townie girlfriend (Heather Lind) who sees nothing wrong with his behavior. Another moving moment occurs when Dan is agonizingly forced to listen to one of his past drunken voicemail messages.
But the film is mainly a claustrophobic slog through familiar themes that fails to generate much impact. By the time the backstory of Dan’s anguished state is revealed viewers will have long since ceased to care.
Opened: Friday, Oct. 4 (Striped Entertainment)
Production: Arcelus Entertainment, Sunnyside Films
Cast: Michael Izquierdo, Heather Lind, Sebastian Arcelus, Vanessa Ray, Bill English
Director: Craig DiFolco
Screenwriters: Craig DiFolco, Sara Rempe
Producers: Sebastian Arcelus, Michael Izquierdo
Director of photography: Ben Wolf
Editor: Scott Pearson
Production designer: Allison R. Marx
Costume designer: Liam O’Brian
Composers: Will Connolly, Damon Daunno, Jonathan R. Pratt
Not rated, 90 min.
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