Friday, May 21, 2010

The Last Days of Disco

Jerry Bruckheimer would have you believe that movies are big things: big explosions, big guns, big stars, girls with big...well, you know. Unfortunately for Bruckheimer and sometimes for an audience, movies are very much about characters and how likable they are. This is probably the biggest problem with much of The Last Days of Disco: none of the characters are particularly likable.
The movie follows a group of upper-class twentysomethings in the early eighties as disco music goes out of style. If you were thinking, based on the title, that the movie would follow the music in some way, you're wrong. It kind of follows club life, but it would be easy to lift these characters and their story lines, and place them in other places. They could easily be transported to Regency England or a futuristic colony on Pluto. The movie feels like an overdrawn play, similar to Closer.
And they are incredibly grating characters. When they're not being proto-yuppies, they're simply self-involved. Charlotte, played by Kate Beckinsale, is a frenemy in training, who clearly has few things going for her beyond controlling her friend Alice, played by Chole Sevigny. Des, played by Chris Eigeman, is a womanizer, pretending to come out as gay to women when he loses interest in them. Tom, played by Robert Sean Leonard, gives Alice two STDs their one and only night together. Naturally, Charlotte and Des end up together, and on some level are perfect for one another, because they're both awful people. Characters on CW shows are less painfully to watch. The only exception to this is Alice, who, as the film progresses, becomes a more assertive character. Watching her bloom is a real treat, but for the most part, the characters are as shallow as the plot, which is mostly about the hookups and nightlife of Charlotte and Alice.
Interestingly enough, the soundtrack is spellbinding, which features, you guessed it, disco music.

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