Friday, June 27, 2014

Notes for the End of the World: Parts Per Billion

2014, Brian Horiuchi -- download

This is not an apocalyptic movie about the end of the world, it is a movie about relationships that happens to be set during the end of the world. Whether this is the premise you use to defend or condemn the movie, this pretty much describes what we watch. This is the point in my fictional novel (non-existent novel, not novel of fiction) compares his own conspiracy focused theories with those of a very real sounding catalyst for the end of the world. Right now, as we speak, Iraq is collapsing again. And army of very capable insurgents is taking city after city, and with no US soldiers backing them up, the Iraqi military is falling. In the movie, not the other fiction, this war culminates with the release of a man-made disease. And this ends the world. We experience it through the eyes and hearts of a handful of couples.

Anna and Erik are light hearts, a musician and a poetry lover, ignoring the end around them and trying to focus on starting a life long (???) relationship already crippled with doubt. Len and Mia are a damaged couple, trying to bring it back together when the finality of events drives them further apart. Only elderly couple Andy and Esther, solid in their love for each other despite having a real hand in what is happening around them, are not afraid of the end and only pull together. Each couple is shot independently but we are shown their connections, a statement that no one is really ever alone in anything.

Previously, in Goodbye World, the couples are focusing on surviving the end of the world. There is no defined way out in this movie; yes, it is that bleak.  But with soft lighting, beautiful people and lovely (but challenged) relationships, we are exploring the emotional impact. It doesn't hurt that the director chooses to make this a very clean kill disease, with no horrible death scenes of bodily functions. Basically, you have difficulty breathing and then you lay down and die. Horiuchi also side steps the panicking masses, giving all his characters solitude and empty spaces to come to terms with their ends. Its well shot, well directed but fails because we are never able to deep dive into any of these couples and actually care about their independent reactions. In the end, it felt like another shallow attempt at a first movie that means something but isn't sure what it means.