Connect with us
'The Last to See Them' has a fascinating idea at its core, but is let down by its uninteresting characters and storyline.


Berlinale 2019: ‘The Last To See Them’ Wastes its Intriguing Premise

‘The Last to See Them’ has a fascinating idea at its core, but is let down by its uninteresting characters and storyline.

Charting the last day in the lives of a South Italian family living on a remote farm, The Last To See Them takes a potentially interesting idea and executes it in the most pedestrian way possible. A riff on In Cold Blood without the blood, it never quite settles into an enjoyable rhythm.   

The premise — told via text — is made loud and clear: this poor family will be murdered in their sleep. The question this immediately plants in the mind of the viewer is: why? Yet, director Sara Summa is more interesting in the what, meticulously detailing the ongoings of this small family throughout the course of one day. The final result leaves a lot to be desired.

Things happen. The daughter bakes a cake and teases her brother. He works on the car and abuses a cat. Dad does some paperwork and signs off a portion of the farm to a visiting businessman. It’s all rather banal. Only the mother’s life remains a mystery. Suffering from severe depression, she looks resigned to death already, stalking the halls of the house like a ghost. Sometimes we see the same events twice, the second time from the mother’s perspective. At first it seems like the mystery of their murder — hinted at by a score full of ominous low string sounds — might be revealed to us, but this is a fake-out, revealing nothing other than the insignificance of the mother in her own house.

The idea of impeding death can work as a powerful subject matter. One of the most heartbreaking films ever made, Fruitvale Station, took a similar idea — the last day in somebody’s life — and imbued it with acres of pathos. However, we are never made to feel for these characters in the same way. They do have their own unresolved issues — the father is evidently in debt, the daughter has to break up with her boyfriend, and the mother prepares to announce a potentially deadly operation — but all these conflicts are purposefully elided until the next day. Instead of following the standard rule of narrative — conflict followed by resolution — The Last To See Them resembles something like real life, putting things off forever because its easier. Sadly, this doesn’t make for very engaging cinema.

Is it a stark warning to confront one’s own issues before its too late? After all, even if these issues were dealt on that same day, it wouldn’t have stopped their inevitable murder, hinted at by roving shots of a camera stalking down an empty desert highway. Is it all just pointless? It’s hard to say. No real meaning or even poetry is imposed on the viewer here. Perhaps this approach that could work if the surface material was more fascinating or the characters were more animated. Here it simply drags.

Spanning 79 minutes, its slim subject matter is stretched awfully thin. Perhaps as a concise and punchy short, The Last to See Them would have retained the haunting, enigmatic notes it strives for. As a feature, however, it rather worryingly made me empathise more with the killers than the killed.

The 69th Berlin Film Festival runs February 7, 2019 – February 17, 2019. Visit the festival’s official website for more info.

Written By

As far back as he can remember, Redmond Bacon always wanted to be a film critic. To him, being a film critic was better than being President of the United States

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Anti-War Anti-War

Three Bestselling Anti-War Novels, Three A-List Film Adaptations…Three Flops:  Castle Keep, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five


Vesper poster Vesper poster

Vesper: Sci-Fi That Thinks Big With Limited Means


Unforgiven movie review Unforgiven movie review

Unforgiven Ushered the Western into its Afterlife 


Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies

A Full List Of Upcoming Marvel Studios Film And TV Releases


Robocop 1987 Robocop 1987

RoboCop is a Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age


Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues


Nope Nope

Jordan Peele’s Nope Explained: A Spectacle of “Bad Miracles”


Alex's War (2022) Alex's War (2022)

Alex’s War, a Documentary Study of Alex Jones, Misses the Big Picture 


Signs movie review Signs movie review

M. Night Shyamalan Signs Finds Comfort at the End of the World


All Out 2022 Predictions All Out 2022 Predictions

Way Too Early Predictions for All Out 2022


Biography: WWE Legends’ Look at Goldberg is One of the Best Wrestling Documentaries Ever 


Detective vs Sleuths Detective vs Sleuths

Detective vs. Sleuths: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride


Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is an Anti-Fascist Classic 


Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022: A Full Recap


High Noon at 70: When Time is of the Essence


Bullet Train movie review Bullet Train movie review

Bullet Train Makes All the Wrong Stops