A few U.S. critics and journalists have snuck a peak at Gus Van Sant‘s Cannes 2005 competion entry, “Last Days”. I saw the film last night here in Manhattan and not surprisingly was quite saddened by the third installment in Van Sant’s trilogy of films that are “inspired by stories that were in the papers” — all three deal directly with death. Fans, and no doubt friends, of Cobain have contemplated and debated those final days; books have been written, websites created, and conspiracy theories have emerged over the past decade. Watching this film gives viewers a stripped down version of events, forcing us to focus on what might have been going on in his mind.
In “Last Days,” the elephant in the living room is rock star Blake (Michael Pitt as the spitting image of Kurt Cobain, even wearing the late Nirvana lead’s trademark Jack Purcell sneakers). Seemingly tortured and drugged, Blake stumbles around a dilapidated house in the woods, barely interacting with the four other people living in the place. In the style of his Palme d’Or winning “Elephant,” Van Sant follows the rock star in the solitary days leading up to his eventual death (its a fictional story inspired by the death of Cobain in 1994). The cast includes Lukas Haas, Asia Argento, and Scott Green, and an appearance by Harmony Korine. Especially striking is a scene featuring Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, who challenges the rock star to save himself. Viewers already seem to be at odds over Van Sant’s 11th feature film, I for one look forward to hearing him talk about it next week in Cannes.