One of the most ambitious films to come out of New Zealand this year, this grim but uplifting tale, shot in New Zealand and Europe, gives new meaning to the “me generation”. Matt Whelan’s Michael is often hard to feel for. When he discovers he’s dying, he doesn’t lament the fact he won’t get to scale Everest or help the poor in India but he’s damned if he’ll miss out on partying, drug-taking and sex. His lust for pleasure and disregard for others makes for an intriguing protagonist but wears thin after a while; there’s no character arc to speak of, which ultimately leaves you feeling as empty as he does. More
But it also forces the viewer to question their own approach to life. Terminally ill, Michael refuses to succumb to a victim mentality, unlike the mysteriously self-sabotaging French girl, Sylvie (Roxane Mesquida) he encounters. Their attraction is convincing but Sylvie feels under-developed, to the point where the film’s climax fails to hit the emotional nerve it might have done in the book. Instead you’re left wondering if the film is trying to make a point about the knife-edge we all walk in life, or simply trying to shock.
Still, first-time director and screenwriter Kirstin Marcon, who based the film on Steven Gannaway’s novel, Seraphim Blues, has created something unusual, well-crafted and poignant. Some of the scenes cinematographer Crighton Bone shot in mid-winter Europe are exquisite. And Whelan (Brad from Go Girls) climbs on board and gives a haunting, unbridled performance of a young man fast running out of time. Hide