The Last Word Film Review
The Last Word

The Last Word Film Review

Shirley Maclaine is a goddamn-acting icon, whose filmography and on-screen talent can influence any actor, whether it be her performance in THE APARTMENT (1960), or her Oscar-winning turn in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983), or even her most performances, especially in Richard Linklater’s underrated BERNIE (that was 2011). Which is probably why it’s even more devastating to see her waste her skills on the TV-movie swill that is THE LAST WORD, a movie so painfully cliche and pointless, you can see right from the start that the creators involved left their creative heart and souls somewhere else. What’s even worse is seeing the respectful casts give it their all and still come up short.

As for the plot (if you can find one) in director Mark Pellington’s so-called effort, we start with the bitter-old Harriet (Maclaine) wondering aimlessly around her self-earned mansion (she’s some kind of media tycoon). After about a minute of this, you realize what you’re really seeing is Maclaine wondering how the hell she got put in this thing. Obviously, Harriet is lonely. Obviously, she’s rich and successful. Which is exactly why she’ll be damned if her story is not left behind to inspire other woman after she dies. She’s gotta have a proper obituary, right?

In comes a young insecure writer named Anne (Amanda Seyfried, more wasted talent) who is verbally abused by Harriet into writing her obituary before she actually dies, naturally. Of course these two will fight first and then become friends! And so it goes, the film seeming to play a game of -Which cliche should go next? Do you ever doubt Harriet will die by the film’s end? Do you doubt Anne will grow as a writer, and even manage to find a love interest? There’s at least one interesting section near the middle of the film when Harriet takes over as disc jockey for a local radio station, but Pellington seems more interested in focusing on her spinning and dancing awkwardly in her chair, rather than have her drop the no-bullshit banter (Something Maclaine has mastered) she usually speaks into the mic.

Don’t even get me started on the technical errors, from the clunky editing and the at times blurry camera work(the shot of Anne deciding she wants to suddenly get laid, especially), to the sound mixing that literally seems to fade in and out. The worse crime of all really is seeing the great Phillip Baker Hall (BOOGIE NIGHTS, SEINFELD) show up as Harriet’s estranged ex-husband. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is clear cinematic-suicide, and a common thing to find in the Hollywood dead that is the post-Oscar film season.

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