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There are so many stories fighting for attention, the film fails to adequately service any of them.

DVD Review: Four Last Songs

Written by Caballero Oscuro

Four Last Songs
takes place on an idyllic Mediterranean isle where residents move at a relaxed pace, seemingly on a never-ending summer vacation. The wine flows freely and nobody seems to have a sustainable career of any kind. It’s a haven of sorts for American ex-pat Larry (Stanley Tucci), a middle-aged piano player who originally came to the island for inspiration from a famous composer but eventually settled into a meaningless existence as a small-time lounge act. He’s motivated to make a mark somehow, although not so motivated that he would consider leaving the safe confines of his island paradise, so he comes up with an idea to stage a concert of the famous composer’s works in an amphitheater that has been off-limits since the composer’s death. Unfortunately, the rights to the location and the music belong to the composer’s widow, and she has no interest in complying with Larry’s dream, setting Larry off on a quest to change her mind.

So far so good, but then other characters come into play. There’s Larry’s girlfriend Miranda (Jessica Stevenson) who is generally supportive but also suspicious of his motives and loyalty. There’s the deceased composer’s mistress/muse (Emmanuelle Seigner), still living near the widow (Marisa Paredes) and butting heads with her whenever their paths cross. And then there’s the refined Sebastian (Hugh Bonneville) and his completely unrefined brother Dickie (Rhys Ifans), both with their own motivations and revelations. But wait, there’s more: as if the movie wasn’t already teetering under the weight of so many characters and subplots, a mysterious teenage girl (Jenna Malone) arrives with the surprise proclamation that she’s Larry’s daughter he never knew he had.

With so many stories fighting for attention, the film fails to adequately service any of them. Tucci carries the primary plot and his story comes closest to a fully realized idea, but the rest of the characters and their situations become also-rans that fail to add much of anything to the film. On the upside, the actors all seem to be enjoying themselves, a fairly simple task in such beautiful surroundings. It’s almost as if the cast decided to go on holiday together and cobbled a film together while they were at it. There are far worse ways to spend two hours than watching actors at play in an exotic locale, and the film makes for enjoyable escapism and almost mandatory wine consumption, but there’s little substance to savor when it’s all over.

Four Last Songs is now available on DVD, for more information visit the film’s website.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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