THE LAST SUPPER
During a dinner gathering, five liberals accidentally murder
their ultra-conservative guest. Sound good so far? Inspired, they continue to
invite right-wing guests to dinner each week, poisoning them to death. But as
the death toll rises, the moral justification for the murders weakens. This is
the premise of THE LAST SUPPER, a clever and engaging black comedy that benefits
from fine performances and understated direction.
Obviously, a film like this depends heavily on its
actors and the ensemble here fits the bill admirably.
As a gang of frankly putrid liberals, Cameron Diaz, Courtney B. Vance, Annabeth
Gish, Ron Eldard and Jonathan Penner accomplish the neat trick of generating
sympathy for their characters even as their madness escalates.
The surprise standout is Vance, the group's one black member:
his descent into obsession is more severe than that of the rest of the group,
and he's convincing all the way down. Diaz (in one of her very first movie
rolls) is another standout as a gorgeous fashion victim, and the usually demure
Gish (DESERT BLOOM, NIXON) shines in her wildest role yet, performing her first
masturbation scene (chaste, fully clothed, but one has to start somewhere, I
As the conservative victims, more seasoned actors take
the stage. Charles Durning is a homophobic priest, Jason Alexander is an
anti-environmentalist ("I'm not anti-Earth, I'm pro-Earthling!"), and
Bill Paxton is a psychotic Desert Storm veteran who sets the plot in motion. The
standout here, again, is a surprise--Ron Perlman (HELLBOY himself) as a
hate-spewing Republican presidential candidate. Perlman's brief but memorable
appearance reverberates long after the film is over and the other cast members
are forgotten--he's that good. Nora Dunn as a nosy police inspector is the one
cast member who fails to make any impression, due, perhaps, to her underwritten
Though the political satire of Dan Rosen's script is
implicit in the concept, he thankfully takes things further...toward the edge.
THE LAST SUPPER never reaches the all-out insanity of the Belgian MAN BITES DOG
(which went completely over the edge, indicting both its characters and the
viewer in the onscreen mayhem). Still, it goes beyond HEATHERS (which copped out
with an utterly unconvincing ending that absolved the murderous heroine of all
wrongdoing). Here our cheerful gang of liberal do-gooders all-too-readily
poison anyone whose views they disagree with, and we're made complicit in their
evildoing--at least until the aforementioned Ron Perlman character shows up and
subtly turns the tables...
First-timer Stacy Title makes a memorable directorial debut.
Title maintains an eerie, subdued tone throughout, only occasionally lurching
into horror movie kitsch such as lightning flashes and hysterical scoring; the
film, in short, is true to its own cynical line of logic from the first murder
to the final frame. It also has an appropriately understated visual style
(in spite of some overly self-conscious compositions). But it's Title's work
with actors that is truly exceptional--nearly all of the performances are
top-notch. THE LAST SUPPER is well worth seeking out, being funny, scary
and, best of all, politically incorrect.
THE LAST SUPPER
Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Stacy Title
Producers: Matt Cooper, Larry Weinberg
Screenplay: Dan Rosen
Cinematographer: Paul Cameron
Editor: Luis Colina
Cast: Jason Alexander, Cameron Diaz, Nora Dunn, Charles Durning, Ron Eldard,
Annabeth Gish, Mark Harmon, Bill Paxton, Jonathan Penner, Ron Perlman, Courtney