Movie Magazine International

The Last Days of Disco

USA - 1998

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Written, produced and directed by Whit Stillman, "The Last Days of Disco" is a basically plotless film with an ongoing debate on the virtues of group socializing versus, quote "ferocious pairing off." The disco era is the film's mere backdrop; there is surprisingly little exploration into this cultural phase.

At the film's center is Alice, played by Chloe Sevigny. Walking the moral high-ground, Alice is attractive with razor-sharp intellect but suffers from low self-esteem. Actively adding to the problem is Charlotte, played by Kate Beckinsale, who is the Ike Turner of Best Friends, purposely trashing Alice's prospects at one turn, then begging forgiveness at the next. In fact, it's never really determined that Alice and Charlotte like each other at all.

They hang out at a nameless New York disco notoriously difficult to get into; those who get nodded in pass a superficial cool test with the front man. There they meet a group of guys, Harvard grads, who are equally aimless, mentally unstable or just plain selfish. At the center is the womanizing Des, (played by Stillman favorite, Chris Eigeman,) one of the club's managers who dumps girls by telling them he just discovered he's gay. Jennifer Beals makes a brief cameo as Nina, one of his misinformed lovers, and she brings some real action to an otherwise dragging film.

Rounding out the group is sweet but ineffectual, Jimmy Steinway, played by Mackenzie Astin; the clinically depressed environmental lawyer played by Matthew Keeslar and nervy, judgmental Tom, played by Robert Sean Leonard.

Most of the characters in "The Last Days of Disco" are shallow, annoying or both. I found it hard to care about any of them. I wanted Alice to speak up for herself but she never did ó very unsatisfying. The film itself comes off as stilted and incongruous; the pace and rapid-fire delivery of most of the dialogue sounded speechy and false, like the taste of an old 40s film but without the flavor.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of gems to be found. One such discussion debasing evil yuppie scum led Jimmy to blurt, "How do we know yuppies even exist? No one ever comes out and says, 'I'm a yuppie!' It's always the other guy."

The best thing about "The Last Days of Disco" is Chris Eigeman, even when his character is despicable, you are always grateful to have his deadpan candor in the scene. Even when he ponders the comparable effects of hot coffee with cocaine then, without thinking, attempts to snort hot caffeine through his noseÖwhat a rush.

© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 5/13/98

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