The Last Man on Earth

Director: Gian Alfonso Pacinotti
Writers: Giacomo Monti (graphic novel “Nessuno mi farà del male”), Gian Alfonso Pacinotti
Stars: Gabriele Spinelli, Anna Bellato, Luca Marinelli

2011 was a decent year for Italian science fiction, what with the release of the superior The Arrival of Wang and Gian Alfonso Pacinotti’s distinctly odd but rather engrossing The Last Man on Earth (L’ultimo terrestre). Pacinotti is better known as an artist responsible for a range of successful comic books under the pseudonym ‘Gipi’, and he’s stayed close to his previous experience here by adapting the graphic novel Nessuno mi farà del male by Giacomo Monti. This, however, isn’t a traditional superhero or action movie, being more concerned with alienation than aliens.

The Last Man on Earth, aka L'ultimo terrestre
The Last Man on Earth, aka L’ultimo terrestre

Luca (Gabriele Spinelli) is a lonely man who lives in a weird apartment block and works in a bingo hall where he is perpetually teased by his hideous workmates (a truly grotesque assortment of weirdos). Abandoned by his mother as a child, he has an unhealthy distrust of women and his social awkwardness means that his only friend is a transvestite called Roberta (Luca Marinelli). His ordered, unhappy existence begins to change with the news that extraterrestrials are expected to arrive on earth in the next few weeks: he works up the courage to talk to his pretty next door neighbor Anna (Anna Bellato); then an alien arrives at the farm of his father (Roberto Herlitzka) and brings some vivacity back to the old man. But very human issues cloud the upcoming cosmic event, resulting in violence, death and the uncovering of some extremely dark secrets.

Although not to all tastes, Pacinotti manages to at least partially pull off the difficult task of mixing comedy, drama and science fiction. It’s effective more in passages than as a whole, with certain strands of the narrative – the relationship between Luca’s father and the alien (a traditional big headed, big eyed extraterrestrial who becomes a kind of surrogate wife to him), a pair of money-grabbing alien ‘prophets’ – working well, while others fall flat. The developing relationship between Luca and Anna never rings true, whereas Luca’s interactions with Roberta are surprisingly believable and even tender. Partially this is due to the nature of Luca himself, a rather one dimensional character who’s a bit too stilted and too ineffective, despite being well played by Gabriele Spinelli. But The Last Man on Earth has visual style to burn, looks way better than it’s 2.3 million euro budget should allow for and is more than equal to not dissimilar projects made at around the same time such as Another Earth and Melancholia.


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