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Reviews by Dr. Frank Swietek   

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FINAL 
C 
Producer  Gary Winick, Alexis Alexanian, Mary Frances Budig, Steve Dunn and Campbell Scott 
Director  Campbell Scott 
Writer  Bruce McIntosh 
Starring Denis Leary  Hope Davis  J.C. MacKenzie  Jim Gaffigan  Jim Hornyak 
Maureen Anderman  Marin Hinkle  Madison Arnold  Caroline Kava 
Studio  Lions Gate Films and Cowboy Pictures 
Review  The stage origins of Campbell Scott's first solo directing effort are all too apparent. "Final" is basically a two-character playlet which has been "opened up" by the addition of a few extra parts, some abrupt flashbacks and a number of scenes shot on the grounds of the hospital that serves as its setting. The alterations don't, however, significantly alter the fact that the piece is a highly claustrophobic affair--a quality quite appropriate given the plot, but not terribly attractive insofar as the audience is concerned.

The picture centers on Bill Tyler (Denis Leary), a wisecracking musician who wakes up in a Connecticut mental institution. Hope Davis plays his doctor Anne, an initially impassive, highly patient sort who's confronted by Bill's belief that he's recently been defrosted from a cryogenic sleep and is soon to be terminated by a lethal injection. Under Anne's prodding, Bill comes gradually to accept that fact that he might simply be hallucinating: he recalls, bit by bit, that he tried to commit suicide while grieving over the death of his father, and the mundane character of his surroundings is certainly convincing. Though one hesitates to give away too much of what follows, the story eventually takes a turn toward commentary on whether individual human life is sacred.

Though it's difficult to discuss the plot of "Final" in detail without revealing too much of its last act, it's easy to compliment Leary and Davis on their performances. The former does well what he seems born for: playing a sharp-tongued, rebellious fellow with a wickedly snide streak. (He handles pathos less successfully.) In her early scenes, Davis gives an impressively minimalist turn, showing only traces of emotion; but as things proceed, she becomes increasingly demonstrative, not always to the best effect. The supporting cast is at best functional, though it's amusing to glimpse writer McIntosh in a minor role; he gives himself a nosebleed as well as a rather prissy character to play.

"Final" is obviously an inexpensive effort, shot over a brief span on digital video. It's entirely appropriate, therefore, that it's billed as "an InDigEnt Production." Unhappily it shows its bargain-basement roots all too clearly; scruffy and ragged, it will probably play better on the small screen than in the theatre. Basically it's cable-ready, and it shouldn't be long in getting there. 

 

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