Sunday, May 8, 2016
Review: The Last Days of Disco (1998)
It's bad enough trying to get a book published under your name while living in an apartment with people you dislike, but you also gotta worry about cocaine addiction, tax indictment, and violent punk rockers? Christ, it's so tough being into disco, I had no idea.
It's the 80s! Music is terrible, AIDS is right around the corner and the economy is about to tank. I'm confused, though... are we uptight or are we loose- aw fuck it, this is a paaaaarty. Why worry? The only looming specter that haunts our characters is the possibility that they won't make it into the club that night. This outright deflection of what is actually the cause of their misery means that The Last Days of Disco possesses much more cynicism than the previous films, that the solution is to overcome themselves and each other. The theme compacts into another microcosm: Chloe Sevigny trades her true feelings for popularity and makes some poor decisions resulting in real high-stakes punishment, divvied by Robert Sean Leonard and his reprehensible outbursts of sudden celibate guilt. Goddamn.
There is a bit of a misstep, come the second half. The way this film decouples its boxcars really reiterates Stillman's disinterest in storytelling structure. After a small time jump, it seems like we're following a completely new set of characters, with new relationships and romantic goals. Those two are together? That guy always loved that woman? ... Huh. It makes it difficult not to think the worst, that there was no way to continue the film on its current course so Stillman had to invent a new one to force it into the satisfying closure he had in mind. Otherwise, you simply have to take his word for it.
At least there still exists the usual dry one-liners and strange conversations about nothing, including a classic argument about The Lady and the Tramp. It's fun at a consistent clip and charming enough to overshadow the large holes. This time.