Anthony Mackie & Zoë Chao in Rom-Com – The Hollywood Reporter

Anthony Mackie & Zoë Chao in Rom-Com – The Hollywood Reporter

If Wes Anderson and Nancy Meyers joined forces to remake the 2016 sci-fi drama Passengersthe result will be like If You Are the Lasta stark yet super cute feature debut from director Kristian Mercado that premiered at SXSW.

Anthony Mackie and Zoë Chao star as a pair of astronauts stranded aboard a NASA shuttle lost in space, and their decent onscreen chemistry helps propel the rom-com to questions of loyalty, friendship and, well, fornication, as the couple will be forever. drifts through the cosmos. Backed by a colorful DIY aesthetic that makes the most of its budget, the film is nonetheless fun and, in terms of its comedy, a little creepy, never finding the sweet spot between romance and laughs.

If You Are the Last

The Bottom Line

Can use more gravity.

Location: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight)
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Zoë Chao, Natalie Morales, Geoff Stults
Director: Christian Mercado
Screenwriter: Angela Bourassa

1 hour 29 minutes

Written by Angela Bourassa, the high-concept story is deliberately low-fi from the get-go, showing how Adam (Mackie) and Jane (Chao), two trained space explorers, get stuck on a floating ship that the interior resembles a massive college dorm suite. With not much to do but watch old 80s movies, exercise, water oxygen-giving plants and eat an ever-increasing supply of Pop Tarts, the two inevitably become close when they realize they’re no longer together. hope they can return to Earth.

Adam and Jane are both happily married, but they’ve been on the loose for three years and it might finally be time to move on. The tension between them initially simmers slightly, until Adam suggests they have sex for health purposes – an idea Jane rejects at first, until she realizes she might be after something. They talk a lot about masturbation, including references to Jane’s massive vibrator collection — consisting of NASA electric screwdrivers fitted with rubber tips — and there’s something very clinical about their approach to desire. of the flesh that the whole thing is not sexy.

When the astronauts finally make it, the filmmakers throw in a predictable but welcome twist that sends them back home to face the lives they thought they were leaving behind. At that point it was If You Are the Last getting a little serious, which is better than when trying to be funny, questioning how you’ll deal with your loved ones when you’re no longer in love, even though the whole world is counting on your happy togetherness.

Mackie and Chao are great in those final scenes, which is about something. The whole shuttle-set thing is, on the other hand, a bit silly and childish, with the two actors seeming to have a lot of fun as their characters tango, get down on Lionel Richie and, eventually, get down and dirty . That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s fun to watch them do these things, and many of the jokes float around in space without landing anywhere.

Aesthetically, If You Are the Last is an acquired taste, but this is also where Mercado’s talents as a director can be seen. Eschewing any kind of sci-fi realism, he and production designer Chris Stull build a cartoonish papier mâché universe where nothing is to be believed, keeping the tone quirky in a very Wes Anderson-y sort of way. of the way.

In fact, the highlight of the film is probably the set itself, which is about as far from a real spaceship, and as close to an Ikea store, as you can get. In that sense Last recalls another recent off-the wall entry in the genre: Claire Denis’ High life, a very dark take on a similar storyline about humans and their sexual needs moving across the universe. (Instead of space vibrators, Denis’ film memorably includes a device called “the fuckbox.”) Mercado’s film is infinitely lighter to a fault, but treads the same waters, using sci -fi to ask about desire and relationships before. very easy to answer.

Full credits

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight)
Production companies: Pinky Promise, Storm City Films, Depth of Field
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Zoë Chao, Natalie Morales, Geoff Stults
Director: Kristian Mercado
Screenwriter: Angela Bourassa
Producers: Andrew Miano, Dan Balgoyen, Britta Rowings, Dennis Masel, Gabrielle Nadig, Jessamine Burgum, Kara Durrett, Jon Levin, Sean Woods, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Executive producers: Harrison Huffman, Will Greenfield, Angela Bourassa
Director of photography: Alex Disenhof
Production designer: Chris Stull
Costume designer: Eulyn C. Hufkie
Editor: Henry Hayes
Composer: Christopher Bear
Casting director: Meagan Lewis
Sales: UTA

1 hour 29 minutes