(US/UK - 2020)
Directed by Dee Rees. Written by Marco Villalobos and Dee Rees. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Rosie Perez, Willem Dafoe, Toby Jones, Edi Gathegi, Mel Rodriguez, Onata Aprile, Carlos Leal, Ben Chase, Julian Gamble, Rob Sedgwick, Billy Kelly, David Vadim. (R, 115 mins)
"You wanna see how a monkey drives? Buckle up. Follow the bananas."
That's an actual line of dialogue from the new Netflix Original film THE LAST THING HE WANTED, and relatively speaking, it's one of its better ones. Based on a 1996 novel by Joan Didion, perhaps best known for scripting films like 1971's THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK, 1976's A STAR IS BORN, and 1996's UP CLOSE & PERSONAL, THE LAST THING HE WANTED utilizes much of the florid, purple prose coming directly from the source, which only serves to demonstrate just how Didion's acclaimed novel fails to translate to the screen in every possible way. We're talking unfilmable on a level of Alan Rudolph's catastrophic 1999 Kurt Vonnegut adaptation BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. Think I'm exaggerating? Then take a spin with this voiceover monologue delivered in a hard-boiled, staccato fashion by Anne Hathaway like a vocal-fried HIS GIRL FRIDAY five minutes into the movie:
"For a while, we thought time was money. Find the time, the money comes with it. Moving fast. Get the suite, the multi-line telephones. Get room service on one, get valet on two, premium service, out by nine, back by one. Download all data, uplink Prague, get some conference calls going. Sell Allied Signal, buy Cyprus Minerals, work the management plays. Plug into the news cycle, get the wires raw, nod out on the noise. Somewhere in the nod, we were dropping cargo. Somewhere in the nod, we were losing infrastructure, losing redundant systems, losing specific gravity."
"Weightlessness seemed, at the time, the safer mode. Weightlessness seemed, at the time, the mode in which we could beat the clock and the affect itself. But I see now that it was not. I see now that the clock was ticking. I see now that we were experiencing not weightlessness, but what is interestingly described on page 1513 of the Merck Manual, 15th edition, as a sustained reactive depression, a bereavement reaction to the leaving of familiar environments. I see now that the environment we were leaving was that of feeling rich. I did not see it then."