Based on the novel of the same name by Joan Didion, Dee Rees co-directs the film THE LAST THING HE WANTED a political thriller with a capable cast. We’ll reveal in our review whether the storytelling is also successful.
Even Willem Dafoe can’t save the disaster.
The plot summary
1984: The experienced and ambitious journalist Elena McMahon (Anne Hathaway) quits the Washington Post after the death of her mother to visit her terminally ill father (Willem Dafoe). He is an arms dealer and is partly responsible for the heated political situation in Central America. It doesn’t take long before Elena’s paths cross with dubious secret service agents…
The Last Thing He Wanted Movie Meaning of ending
After her critical favorite and Academy Award-nominated film “Mudbound,” director Dee Rees remains loyal to the video-on-demand service Netflix: Even before the political thriller “The Last Thing He Wanted” was released, the streaming service acquired it the worldwide rights to the novel adaptation. But anyone familiar with Netflix’s film release strategy already knows what difference there must be between “Mudbound” and Dee Rees’ new film. Because “The Last Thing He Wanted” does not receive the Netflix luxury treatment that the mega-corporation gives to films that it expects to be present at the major film awards, but instead becomes available on the streaming service in a relatively unceremonious manner after a stint at the Sundance Film Festival provided. After the devastating reviews from Sundance, that was no longer a surprise. And even if the US festival press sometimes unfairly tramples on films, “The Last Thing He Wanted” is actually just plain lame.
Ben Affleck still has three more films this year with which he can impress.
From a purely theoretical perspective, Dee Rees certainly deserves respect for the material she dares to tackle here: she is only the second person to dare to work on a novel by the writer Joan Didion. The author is as famous as she is notorious for her piercing writing style, and so before “The Last Thing He Wanted” only one other of her works was made into a film – and for “Play Your Game” by Frank Perry she was at least involved in the script herself. In the case of “The Last Thing He Wanted,” however, Rees sat down with Marco Villalobos on the original to try to bring the numerous plot threads and locations of the original into film form. As expected, it went completely wrong – “The Last Thing He Wanted” is both hectic and sluggish at the same time: the film constantly jumps from place to place, character motivations constantly change – but Rees stages it with such randomness that there is no narrative flow want. Who knows how confusing this would all look if it didn’t star Oscar winner Anne Hathaway in the lead role. Hathaway doesn’t manage to breathe believable life into the lead role (Elena is simply written too opaquely and inconsistently for that), but she at least sells each of the journalist’s fickle phases with great conviction.
How this woman with a great work ethic can suddenly become a perplexed observer and what brings her back to her old self for a few minutes in the film and why she allows herself to be reduced to a bed bunny and then does this or that remains a mystery. But thanks to Hathaway’s acting, at least Elena doesn’t seem completely confused, but rather as if important turning points in her development had fallen victim to the scissors. Willem Dafoe, on the other hand, as Elena’s eccentric and prejudiced father, seems like he was borrowed from another film: as a great caricature of a man who constantly wants to be perceived as super-super-super-masculine and whose relationship with his daughter consists mainly of competition, his Scenes are whimsy, but they rarely fit into the cool, earthy tone of the rest of the film. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is muttering something monotonously to themselves – including Rosie Perez (currently seen in “Birds of Prey” in cinemas) and Ben Affleck, who has three more films to go this year.
The strange thing about it: Rees generally seems to have more interest in the characters than in the political underpinnings of this political thriller, which touches on the domestic scandals and foreign policy deceptions of the Reagan era. In any case, that would explain the narrative focus in “The Last Thing He Wanted” – it’s just unfortunate that the character drawing is the film’s biggest weak point. Because when the set pieces of a thriller driven by atmosphere and plot make themselves felt, something glimmers in this film. Be it a continuous tracking shot that captures the hustle and bustle at an airport, or be it energetically edited insights into the various conflicts that arise in the contemporary political background of the numerous locations in this film: Dee Rees does her several times in “The Last Thing He Wanted”. craftsmanship noticeable. But these sequences, when Mako Kamitsuna’s editing and Bobby Bukowski’s camera work are captivating, are few and far between – for the most part, “The Last Thing He Wanted” babbles along cinematically, while political dust is swirling in the film world and central characters change radically several times change.
Conclusion: Despite isolated scenes with ambitious staging and a trying Anne Hathaway, “The Last Thing He Wanted” is a well-told political thriller whose characters act in a completely confused manner.
“The Last Thing He Wanted” is now available on Netflix.