Fans of grit specialist Abel Ferrara (King of New York) know he hardly needs an actual apocalypse to go nuclear. The cult director’s latest, pitched during the final night of an ozone-depleted planet predicted to die at an unusually specific hour, is a lame excuse to showcase what happens at 4:44—a.m. or p.m.—in nearly all of Ferrara’s movies. In brief: An intense Lower East Side couple (Dafoe and Leigh, mismatched) will writhe on the floor of their shared loft in a protracted bout of foreplay, then yell at the general futility of it all, flail at each other wildly and finally argue about drugs.
Let’s not make 4:44 Last Day on Earth sound cooler than it is. Compared with Lars von Trier’s histrionically doomed Melancholia, the film lacks any serious attempt to grapple with mortality. (We see a lot of dull Skyping between friends and relatives, scenes that may play better on your laptop.) Ferrara’s ballyhooed return to NYC—4:44 is his first fiction feature shot here since 2001’s infinitely superior ’R Xmas—is a disappointment, mainly trapped in the low-budget confines of a single apartment and a rooftop, when he could be out taking in the streets he knows best. Bunker mentality is the last thing you’d expect from this indie survivor.
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