The Last Word (2008) was directed by Geoffrey Haley who also wrote the story. I’d not heard of him so it was because of Wes Bentley who played the main character, Evan Merc, that I chose to watch the movie. I liked it. I liked the character of Evan, a reclusive writer who made his living writing suicide notes. The character is not only reclusive but restrained, his range of emotions, emotional responses and daily activities so circumscribed they’d fit on the head of a pin.He is also dressed with the same restraint in almost monochromatic earth hues. The shirts hint at a man who dressed as he did as a teenager, someone who did not care about clothes or his appearance.
All through the movie, the Evan character is flat and two-dimensional, a cartoon character without emotion and the barest of life. When the sister of one of his clients, Matt, pursues him, he resists but is drawn into a relationship when Charlotte (played by Winona Ryder, another movie personality I am not familiar with) casually offers sex on their third “date.” His emotional involvement with Charlotte and with Abel (played by Ray Romano of the long-running TV series, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) leads to Evan’s castled restraint falling apart. Desolate when Charlotte finds out he had written her brother’s suicide note, Evan who does not drink (or eat out, a “saint” according to Charlotte) goes on a drinking spree at a bar. When he leaves, a man follows and holds him up. Evan is surprised at the intense rage incited by the hold-upper. He punches the man to unconsciousness. His emotions are awakened. He stops Abel from killing himself and together they realize Abel’s dream of making a cliff living. They allow people irate with some purchase or possession to hurl the darn thing over the cliff and watch it detonate as Abel pushes a button and the client watches on a monitor.
The story concept is original. It gives the movie an understated weirdness. It’s like the elephant in the room because the movie is otherwise presented almost blandly. I’m afraid I won’t remember this movie after a week and wonder how it could have been a more memorable film. On the other hand I get tired of action-driven films with explosions and acrobatic fistfights every second frame. The Last Word is memorable for how Haley constructed Evan’s character. There is something lovable about this ecru-and-earth-dressed man who was drifting through life after an abusive childhood. He makes a “horrible boyfriend” but hooks me emotionally because we’re all at one time or another felt we needed distance from the madding crowd to have some control over what Evan calls “issues.”