Before Last Night Movie Review

What do you get when you throw a bunch of college preppies together with a video camera, a budget of about $32, and a crime drama storyline that makes even the cheesiest episode of Miami Vice look profound? A little more than two hours of cinematic agony.

Eli (Tyson Hooser) is a young skater with a cash-flow problem. But when his friend Shawn (Elsa Bigelow) introduces him to The Boss (Jimmie Jennings), his money problems appear to be over. That is, until a couple of The Boss's goons double-cross him on his first job.

Shot on video with a cast of locals in Gainesville, Florida, Before Last Night is a testament to what a few people can accomplish with almost no money. It's surprisingly well edited, with some reasonably strong camera work. And the soundtrack, though maddeningly repetitive, is about as expertly composed as any you could hope to find in such a low-budget independent film. Plus, the couple of chase scenes that constitute the action of the film are actually sort of well done, even if they're not remotely believable.

Unfortunately, it's also as bad a case of naïve scripting and riotously bad acting as you could ever hope for. About the only remotely believable character in the film is Eli, who is supposed to be ignorant and naïve. But the gaggle of supposedly hard-boiled characters surrounding him are stupendously laughable.

The award for most amusing representation of a hardcore gangster I've ever seen goes to Jimmie Jennings as The Boss. It would be unfair to single Jennings out for his acting in a film this bereft of talent, but every thuggish threat he delivers falls flat. It's practically impossible to imagine him as anything more than a jovial bodybuilder. But even more absurd is the pair of pretty boys who play The Boss's hired thugs, Tyler (Justin Weathers) and Eddie (Brad Harwood). These two couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag. It's difficult to care about Eli's plight for any length of time when this bunch of gangsters doesn't look seem remotely capable of kicking anyone's ass. Most of the cast will probably end up grounded if their parents find out how much swearing they've done in this movie.

The only element of Before Last Night that's intentionally amusing is the series of parody furniture commercials that run on TV screens in various scenes throughout the film. And, if you stick around long enough, you can watch them in their entirety after the closing credits.

With all that said, Alexander Davidowski's achievement in simply seeing this film through to distribution deserves some applause. It's nigh impossible to make a feature-length film with a local cast and no budget, and the fact that this movie was made at all speaks volumes for the writer/director's determination. I'd like to see what he could do if he actually had some resources to work with.

Comments

Before Last Night Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: NR, 2004

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