Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last Day of Summer

The new wave of US comedies with a knack for social observation is spawning one gem after the other.

If Little Miss Sunshine or Juno represented the more Hollywood-friendly side of it, more somber productions like Greenberg and Last Day of Summer seem more focused on the darker end of the spectrum.

Directed by Vald Yudin and starring the excellent DJ Qualls of Roadtrip fame, Last Day of Summer is the minimalistic story of a fast food employee (Gregory aka Joe) who's just about to reach tipping point as he endures daily taunting and humilation at the hands of his sadistic boss (Mr Crolick).

Initial build-up aside, the plot takes place within a day only, with Joe attempting to perfect his plans to finally take revenge on his appalling workplace bully.

But before the film can develop into a modern-day version of Taxi Driver or Falling Down, on the day of reckoning things take an unexpected turn. Cue the arrival of a fast-food customer (Stephanie, herself with her own baggage), a botched abduction and the growing empathy between kidnapper and captive - all ingredients that take this endearing film to unexplored territories.

While peppered with a number of funny moment, Last Day of Summer stands out for its deptiction of the day-to-day squallor of the life of a fast-food employee, the suffocating grip of a dead-end job and the insecurity and the lack of prospects that come with it.

A far cry from a contemporary pop culture too often stuffed with bigged-up success stories, happy endings and assorted proto-darwinistic tales of self-made men (especially in the US), Last Day of Summer is one of the best indie releases of the year.

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