The last day on earth, if it were known in advance and calculated to the minute, would surely be the greatest case of a watched pot never boiling in history, until, of course, it did.  With 4:44: THE LAST DAY ON EARTH, Abel Ferrara perfectly captures the strange combination of ennui, anxiety, wonder, fear, panic, and anticipation that might ensue, focusing on a couple for whom it is a day like any other, only the last one. One has to slough off the improbability of the scenario, which is incoherent by any standard (climate change and ozone depletion are presented as though they were one and same thing), but 4:44 turns out to be a rather special film, not only psychologically acute but with a moral vision.

As it comes hard upon MELANCHOLIA, Lars von Trier‘s riff on the same theme, one can’t help but compare and contrast the two. The greatest similarity – or difference – between the films is at the end; in von Trier’s case the screen goes black, in Ferrara’s it devolves to white. Black being the absence of light and white its presence, Ferrara has depicted a sort of apotheosis of being (through love) and von Trier of non-being (subsequent to love).

The latter is perhaps the more unblinking of the two visions. The former is more affirming and perhaps the wiser. Watching the two lovers locked in their final earthly embrace, I was reminded of the ending of Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” when love was the salvation of the vampire on his return to the world of the living, and his consequent dying.

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