Title: 4:44 Last Day on Earth

Director: Abel Ferrara (‘Chelsea on the Rocks’)

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh (‘Public Enemies’) and Natasha Lyonne

People have always wondered how they would act in the wake of the inevitable destruction of the world. While some may naively believe that they can implement a way to stop nature and the destruction of life as humans know it, others choose to accept their fate and make peace with their mortality. This all-important question is the main driving force in the new sci-fi drama ‘4:44 Last Day on Earth.’ The main characters in the film have come to terms with their lives coming to an end, and instead focus on making peace with each other.

‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’ follows a seemingly mismatched, but in love, couple-the older, successful actor Cisco (played by Willem Dafoe) and the younger, naive painter Skye (portrayed by Shanyn Leigh)-as they come to terms with the looming end of the world. Due to irrevocable circumstances that scientists can’t reverse, including extensive global warming, the entire human race has come to accept that at 4:44 am tomorrow morning, the world’s population will succumb to death. While Cisco and Skye have accepted their pre-determined fate, they are still struggling with their insecurities with themselves, their relationship and their seemingly broken bonds with those closest to them, including Cisco’s ex-wife and daughter.

Abel Ferrara, the writer and director of ‘4:44 Last Day on Earth,’ deserves credit for creating an apocalyptic sci-fi film that focuses on the psychology and relationships of the main characters as they approach the end of the world. Instead of heavily relying on special effects to explain the reasoning behind the catastrophic event, the filmmaker uniquely featured Cisco and Skye’s perspective of what’s happening around the world from their apartment. Between watching television news programs about the latest updates and using Skype to say their final goodbyes to their families, the two must come to terms with the ending of their taboo relationship.

The strenuous efforts Cisco and Skye take to support each other while, and control how, they face their mortality perfectly mirrors the human race’s desire to always take charge of their situation. The two characters’ inability to console each other reflects people’s incapability to fully steer the path of the environment and nature. Skye’s feelings of helplessness and inferiority to Cisco’s ex-wife and her take-charge attitude shows that nature doesn’t always have regard for the human race’s emotions and desire to stay alive. While people are aware of the dangers of global warming, like Skye is attentive to Cisco’s ex-wife’s disdain to her, there is little anyone can do to change a course of action that’s already set in motion.

While ‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’ has philosophical metaphors between the human race’s psychology as they knowingly near the end of their lives and the unforgiving course nature takes, the sci-fi drama unfortunately fails to offer any true empathy to the characters. Besides Skye’s feelings of inferiority to Cisco’s ex-wife, little background information is provided about either character. It’s hard to relate to their struggle to maintain their humanity as they come to cope with the realization that mankind has led to the downfall of their planet’s sustainability.

If Ferrara truly wanted to create an emotional, relatable insight into the psychology of what people go through when faced with their inevitable death, it would have been helpful if he truly and unforgivably explored the relationship between Cisco and Skye. ‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’ focuses more on the contempt the two characters start to feel for each other, and their disagreements over their live choices, than fully developing their personalities. The characters would be more sympathetic if they more candidly discussed their feelings about their upcoming demise, instead of continuously rehashing their old insecurities about their relationship.

‘4:44 Last Day on Earth’ made a commendable effort to tell the story through the psychology of the main characters, as opposed to the generic explosions that are normally commonplace in the sci-fi apocalyptic genre. Unfortunately, Ferrara failed to create a realistic and genuine bond between Cisco and Skye, leaving the film without any emotional or visually stunning characteristics to drive the plot forward. While the filmmaker had honorable intentions in wanting to heavily include the metaphor that the characters’ motivation to control their relationship is the same as the human races’ desire to control the path of the world, the message is ultimately disillusioned.

Technical: C+

Acting: C+

Story: C

Overall: C+

Written by: Karen Benardello

4:44 Last Day on Earth

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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