“The Last Thing He Wanted”
Rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images and brief nudity. 115 minutes. ★
Not too deep into the Netflix film “The Last Thing He Wanted,” the spunky heroine is given a warning: “Buckle up. It’s gonna be bananas.” It’s advice that checks out. It’s definitely bananas, but not in a pleasant way.
Dee Rees has stumbled badly with her adaptation of Joan Didion’s novel of the same name, creating a messy, disorientating and meandering film. It’s the last thing we wanted.
Partly the problem is due to its framing. The book employs a nameless narrator, a writer who has only a peripheral knowledge of the people and events around which the story revolves. The movie uses chunks of Didion’s prose but keeps the detachment, somehow doubling the alienation by the time it gets onto film, making it a bloodless moral thriller.
Rees, who helmed “Mudbound” to acclaim, directs and co-writes the screenplay with Marco Villalobos and they clearly admire the novel. That leads to pointless scenes, too many minor characters and a lack of precision. For a thriller, there’s also an alarming lack of thrills.
So often this films feels like a balloon repeatedly blown up and then just as soon deflated.
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