Three years after watching his fiancée Georgia (Samara Weaving) get killed, Sam Pivnic (Zach Avery) has become an anxious vagabond in France. When he attends a Parisian movie theater and witnesses an actress in the film who resembles his long-lost love, he sets out on a journey to uncover the truth behind that dreaded night which replays in his mind – when Georgia was shot and left for dead. Making their directorial debut, Colin Krisel and James Krisel have brought their evocative screenplay to life in this edgy Hitchcockian thriller co-starring Golden Globe Winner Brian Cox (Succession) and Carly Chaikin (Mr. Robot) about a loving young man who assumed his long-time girlfriend was murdered by mafia boss Ivan Demisovski (Udo Kier) but comes to consciously comprehend that she’s still alive and living a new life as a Hollywood actress. The film maintains a tense atmosphere throughout its perfectly paced 90 minute length as the leading man, Sam, contemplates his firm belief that Georgia is still alive. James and Colin Krisel do an incredible job of telling this passionate story about moving forward in life, while learning to love our past.
The title, Last Moment of Clarity, isn’t limited to Sam’s deeply embedded belief in proving to himself that Georgia is still alive and living a new life as an up-and-coming actress named Lauren Clerk; it also refers to the notion of whether or not a man and woman can be together when they still love each other, despite all the time they’ve lost in being apart. The tagline on the one-sheet poster for this passionate film reads, “The ones we lose are never really gone.” This is a profound statement that carries great weight with its meaning in relation to the film. In terms of relationships and proposed marriages, just because two people break-up doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. Sam is out on a quest to prove to himself that the woman he sees on-screen at the Parisian cinema is his long-lost love, Georgia, who never died. But, even beyond Sam’s objective, the title and tagline of this film suggest the concept behind the “soul-tie”; when two former lovers are forever connected in life and in the hereafter – regardless of who they end up marrying and starting a life with.
Directors Colin and James Krisel brilliantly employ the underutilized elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s style in this film, especially from Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) when James Stewart portrayed two different characters. In one, Stewart was a wheelchair bound photographer who takes a photo that leads him to believe one of his neighbors committed a murder, and in the other, he portrays a Police detective who becomes obsessed with following a beautiful woman that hauntingly resembles a deceased woman he was previously hired to investigate. These two elements from Hitchcock, in conjunction with an aspect of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966) about a photographer who finds something suspicious in his pictures, results in a thrilling story from start to finish in Last Moment of Clarity – a story that starts off in Paris and ends in Hollywood.
Sam has newspaper clippings pinned on the wall of his small studio apartment in France that are so elaborately executed, it makes him look like he’s a police detective investigating the slaying of his late fiancée. Though Sam’s in a perpetual state of delusion and fear, he maintains a level of self-care in his daily routine of push-ups and watering his house plants, signifying his love for life and his purpose to stay alive. The film uses the flashback technique with brilliant precision – most notably a sequence of scenes where Sam and Georgia frequent the bathtub. In one flashback, Sam is in Georgia’s lap; she’s his sanctuary. “Will you still love me, if you’re successful?” Sam asks. “If I’m a powerful bitch with no emotions?” Georgia replies, setting up the great mystery of whether or not she’s still alive and if she is, we fathom why she could have left Sam. The film is filled with thought provoking dialogue about relationships that spark the idea of whether or not a couple would stay together if one of them became financially independent. Suggesting that many relationships stay afloat because of their reliance on one another out of necessity more so than willingness or desire.
The electronic ethereal score by Benjamin Patrick adds a layer of proper emotion that gives a dramatic ambiance to the characters lives as they long for love, while struggling with the idea of moving forward, and learning to look backward with grace as opposed to sadness. When Sam is bewildered at the site of Georgia acting in a Hollywood movie playing at a theater in Paris, the editing pace progresses the story forward with a swift acceleration as Sam conducts research behind a computer while cutting out her picture in printouts, signifying the utter anxiousness ever-present in Sam’s psyche has he attempts to sell himself on the idea that Georgia is still alive. Many films waste precious screen time in these instances, but film editor Arndt-Wulf Peemoller does an incredible job of keeping this story flowing in a strategic and calculated manner with a consistent rate of tension maintained throughout a plot filled with surprises and revelations. While still in France, Sam confides in his boss, Gilles (Brian Cox) who runs the local watering hole. He questions whether or not Georgia and Lauren Clerk are the same person. Gilles disagrees that the woman in the picture is Georgia. He’s adamant about Sam moving on and finding a new partner. Sam wrestles with the concept of whether or not this revelation is a figment of his imagination through hallucinatory thoughts in conjunction with long-lost fantasies, or if he’s right and Georgia changed her look after faking her death. But Sam doesn’t budge; he’s got his heart and mind set on pursuing Lauren Clerk with questions as he heads to Hollywood, after Gilles gives him his blessing and a wad of spending cash.
While Sam arrives in Hollywood, he constantly hears flashbacks of Georgia’s voice, and images of their intimate moments in their bathtub. After attempting to sneak his way into Lauren Clerk’s movie premiere, he crosses paths with Katherine (Carly Chaikin), who’s working at the event. Katherine is no stranger to Sam. She recognizes him from high-school – which is a far-fetched concept, but very plausible since Hollywood attracts a lot of aspiring artists and dreamers from around the world. There’s a slight chance you may run into someone you knew from high-school if you live in Hollywood long enough. Sam tells Katherine why he’s in Hollywood. She’s persuaded to take advantage of her connections and take Sam to a party where he can engage Lauren Clerk, while building a relationship with Sam that hints to the undeniable fact the she could be a more compatible partner for him, given their chemistry within a slowly building romance. And when Lauren denies having ever known Sam when she’s confronted by him at the party, he becomes disenchanted, but still refuses to give up his fight to prove that Lauren and Georgia are one and the same. “Love exists in a time and a place. Everyone thinks it’s about fate. But, it’s not. It’s about timing. You can only go forward; you can’t go back.” Katherine says to Sam with conviction, in a powerful moment of dialogue exchanged between the two as Sam begins to contemplate the concept that two people can be perfectly compatible underneath a set of certain circumstances, but in time, once those settings dissipate and people evolve, they may or may not be compatible with one another. Regardless, the theme of the film stays true no matter what: the ones we lose are never really gone.
Zach Avery’s performance as Sam is one-dimensional and without much depth. No matter the circumstances prevalent upon the screen, his emotions rarely fluctuate. Avery’s line delivery and facial expressions are almost always identical to previous scenes and situations. Perhaps, it’s played this way because his character is disenchanted and hallucinatory. He hasn’t gotten good sleep in over three years and as a result of this deprivation, he’s become delusional – almost spaced out. Ultimately, Last Moment of Clarity is an excellent neo-noir thriller written and directed by two filmmakers making their directorial debut. It’s clearly apparent in their work on this film that every decision was made with intention, and it’s in that element of their filmmaking techniques which make this movie cinematic. The flashbacks have meaning in their framing and blocking which are in sync with the underlying theme of the film. The cinematic composition of the flashback technique in relation to what occurs in present time is executed perfectly in the film’s climax.
This film is filled with surprises and outcomes that aren’t entirely predictable. Last Moment of Clarity is a story about love and relationships intertwined in the genre of thriller. It’s a film that explores the concept behind the natural progression of human evolvement. In bittersweet ways, this film explores how long-lost loves can reunite after so much time has passed in being apart. It suggests how former lovers can be happy for each other’s different lifestyle’s, while holding on to the everlasting and unbreakable soul-tie created between the two. From Paris to Hollywood, the mise-en-scene of editing, cinematography, musical composition and directing has been crafted into a beautiful film that leads to a climactic showdown that uses cinematic techniques of framing and composition to convey specific meanings that will leave you feeling thrilled with bittersweet emotions. There is an idea expressed about two people who love each other, but don’t have to necessarily end up together, and they can both be okay with that, because they both understand that nothing can take away that specific period of time in their past where they were in love and everything was magical. The memories and moments will always stay alive in their hearts. Even though two people are apart, in spirit they’re together forever because their souls are tied in a knot. Last Moment of Clarity hits that message out of the park with a home run.