By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 15, 2011 at 4:35AM
The idea of the end of the world is an endless mine for filmmakers. Principally, of course, they're big-budget action fests, whether showing the disaster in progress, like the many, many examples in Roland Emmerich's career, or showing the aftermath, like "Mad Max" and his plentiful rip-offs. But sometimes, you get lower-key takes on the same subject matter, which are inevitably infinitely more insightful about an idea that, let's be honest, hangs around the back of most of our minds. From Don McKellar's "Last Night" to the upcoming Steve Carell/Keira Knightley drama "Seeking A Friend At The End of the World," it's surprisingly easy to make the apocalypse happen on a low-budget, and the latest director to turn his eye to this genre is maverick veteran Abel Ferrara.
The director's made a string of classics over the year, from grindhouse horror "Driller Killer" to the original "Bad Lieutenant" and excellent 1990s flicks "The Addiction" and "The Funeral," but he hasn't had the easiest last few years, with none of his pictures in the last decade-and-a-half, mostly documentaries like "Chelsea on the Rocks" and "Mulberry St," gaining much attention. But Ferrara's just wrapped filming on a new feature, and it looks like it has the making of a return to form for the auteur.
Principal photography for "4.44 Last Day On Earth," has just wrapped, and thanks to the film's co-producers and sales agents Funny Balloon, we've got an exclusive first look at the film, which stars Willem Dafoe, as well as some details on the project's plot. Dafoe stars alongside "Public Enemies" actress (and the director's longtime partner) Shanyn Leigh, with troubled actress Natasha Lyonne and Ferrara veteran Paul Hipp ("The Funeral") and you can read the synopsis below.
In a large apartment high above the city lives our couple. They're in love. She's a painter, he's a successful actor. Just a normal afternoon - except that this isn't a normal afternoon, for them or anyone else. Because tomorrow, at 4:44 am, give or take a few seconds, the world will come to an end far more rapidly than even the worst doomsayer could have imagined. The final meltdown will come, not without warnings, but with no means of escape. There will be no survivors. As always, there are those who, as their final cigarette is being lit and the blindfold tightened, will still hope against hope for some kind of reprieve. For a miracle. Not our two lovers. They - like the majority of the Earth's population – have accepted their fate; the world is going to end.
The potential for powerful stuff, to be sure, and probably a good fit for Ferrara, and we're certainly exited to see Dafoe working with the director again. The film also has the director teaming up with a number of his previous collaborators, including DoP Ken Kelsch and editor Anthony Redman. Funny Balloons are backing it alongside Chile's Fabula and Wild Bunch, and it's currently being shopped around at Cannes, so we'll likely see it on the festival circuit by the start of next year -- Sundance, perhaps?