In New York, gaming expert Leo (Garcia Bernal) is happily married to surgeon Ellen (Williams). While they work, their young daughter Jackie (Nyweide) is tended to by their Filipina nanny Gloria (Necesito), who's working to raise money to help her two young sons (Nicdao and Delos Santos) back home. Leo's latest business trip takes him to Thailand, where he has some time to kill waiting for his business partner (McCarthy) to make a deal, so he heads to a remote beach, where be befriends a lively young hooker (Srinikornchot).
Even though the central characters are all part of each others' lives, their day-to-day experiences are faced alone. And this causes a series of crises that they never properly share with each other. Some of this is naivete, other moments involve personal failings and some simply bring raw emotional (or physical) pain that can only be soothed in the presence of a loved one.
Yes, it's a pretty wrenching drama, and from the start Moodysson builds the tone using heavy premonitions that we're heading for an impending tragedy or something frighteningly close to it. But he shoots the film with a sunny, colourful style that sharply contrasts with this growing sense of unease. And the cast is relaxed and very natural, with Williams delivering an especially brittle performance that really catches our sympathies.
The title is a reference to the transience of human existence: will we someday be extinct like the mammoth is? And there is also the lingering question that, since we essentially go through life on our own, is our idealised sense of family a myth? Some of this is a bit heavy-handed (such as when Gloria buys her son a basketball in New York that was made in the Philippines) and other scenes feel preachy, including a pointed lesson in global poverty. Altogether, it feels somewhat random and over-reminiscent of Babel. But in the small moments, it packs a powerful punch.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 23rd January 2009
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Sci-Fi Channel
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 21
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Producer: Lars Jonsson
Screenwriter: Lukas Moodysson
Starring: Vincent Ventresca as Dr. Frank Abernathy, Summer Glau as Jack Abernathy, Tom Skerritt as Simon Abernathy, Constantin Draganescu as Gordon, Cole Williams as Squirrelly, Charles Carroll as Sheriff Marion Morrison, Mark Irvingsen as Deputy Dino, David Kallaway as Deputy Bud, Leila Arcieri as Agent Powers, Andrew Peter Marin as Floyd, Dan Radulescu as Moe the Monkey Man, Karen Parden Johnson as Gas Station Lady, Coca Bloos as Olive, Boris Petroff as Bruno, Marcus Lyle Brown as Agent Whitaker
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