My Review of “The Last Sign” (a film with Tim Roth)
The Last Sign (link to its trailer on IMDb below) was an interesting drama; its premise intriguing, and its message true. It is a story of forgiveness, and its supernatural elements I appreciated.
I do believe communication beyond the grave is possible, as I realize there is no barrier to love being expressed.
However, in my opinion, its description (such as on the front and back of the dvd case it came in) is entirely misleading. To me, this is not at all a story of a widow recovering from an “abusive husband” or a “living nightmare” as its case describes. On the contrary, it’s the woman (“Kathy” played by Andie MacDowell) I found very objectionable for her lack of empathy with an obviously good husband and fine father (“Jeremy” played by Tim Roth). Not at all did I feel empathy for the surviving wife/mother, for in my opinion it was the wife who failed her husband in his time of need – not the other way around.
Jeremy was both a loving father and husband, providing very well by the looks of their home/lifestyle, playing sweetly with his children, and behaving throughout the relationship in a most tender way toward his wife. His only serious mistake was a turn to alcohol for solace when several children die despite his medical care (he is a doctor) in his humanitarian mission. This beautiful man chose to go to Africa to help those in need and when they die he is fraught with turmoil over their deaths. To me, that’s a man to be admired and respected. When his grief over the children’s deaths finds him unable to function he, as many do, unfortunately became an alcoholic prone to times of despair and rage which we see only directed at physical items within his separate cottage study. This is a suffering man…not an “abusive husband” as the dvd case indicates or in how we witness the wife’s behavior in her hatred expressed toward her deceased husband.
I suppose I have a particular prejudice against the portrayal of women as “victims” when they are not because it seems common in this society. Many women seem to wallow in their emotionalism, gaining some sort of twisted satisfaction by manipulating others to view them as victims to achieve sympathy. I find such behavior pathetic and disgusting…so throughout the film I could not get past why this woman expresses so much hatred toward a man who by all evidence was a most remarkable and good husband and father.
When he needed his wife’s love the most to help him emerge from his angst of perhaps a mix of grief and guilt for the deaths of the precious children in Africa he had volunteered to help, she instead of working with him declares she is leaving and taking the children with her. I suppose the marriage vows, the expression of love, she gave at one time meant nothing when her comfortable average daily life is disrupted by her man needing help. I found it to be a selfish disregard on her part for not actively doing everything she could to help and guide him with solace, comfort, understanding and appeal to obtain outside counseling (as he seemed a man who even in the midst of his emotional pain was truly tender and regretful for his occasional alcoholic-induced anger–again never directed at his family)…but more simply through signs of despair. He is simply a man in pain, and what does his wife do? Give him more pain.
Nevertheless, the storyline is good, for it demonstrates a powerful message – hatred is never justified – and to the degree one engages such emotionalism (making the mistake of believing some undesirable behavior of another deserves judgment punishable by hatred) the only cure is to forgive. In this story, her lack of empathy for his emotional suffering, leads to such buildup of hatred that she focuses on that one period in their lives versus a lifetime of what seems a good family life.
The deceased husband is so loving in his desire (perhaps also for himself, but far more it seems altruistically for her) to reach his wife with the message that she must forgive him so that she may again live life fully and happily. It is this quest the story centers upon as she repeatedly denies what is before her eyes instead clinging to her illusion that he was a horrendous monster and she an innocent victim. Even if, as she perceives, he had been a disreputable man, she would need to learn to forgive – letting go of hatred – in order to live…but for me, the story is compounded because that is not even the case. (If anything, I was left with a feeling that the deceased husband, knowing the essentialness of forgiveness, has either never judged her or if he had has forgiven her, and now wants his wife to experience peace, too.)
Tim Roth is fine in his performance (though I would have liked much more of him in it–would have been better if he had been given much more opportunity to shine as he always does in his roles)…his final words in the story beautiful.
I was also particularly impressed with the character portrayed and the acting of the young man who plays their son, “Frank,” Tyler Hynes. His performance, along with Roth’s, contributed immensely to the film.
Forgiveness – a powerful awareness – is a must for all. All are harmed when it is denied.
I don’t consider The Last Sign a thriller, but more a drama with suspense from supernatural occurrences. It’s not outstanding due to its lack of in-depth character development – but it is good enough to view once. Watch it for another excellent (though limited) Tim Roth performance as the ghost, and for a timeless message. (And I, as a viewer/observer of the story, forgive the emotional woman.)
Its trailer at the film’s IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381361/
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