A monochrome existentialist sci-fi essay on the last people standing after an undisclosed global conflict, directed by Brian Patrick Butler, in his feature film debut, this 50 minutes treatise on the unsustainability of the human condition in a genetically modified apocalypse is a mix of home movie and Brechtian theatre play, and a very 2020 affair.
I would have preferred Friend Of The World (2020) less half its words, even a gritty solo act, rather than the acerbic two-hander it is, with a focal performance larger than the film’s format or overall raggedy feel, that of an unrepentant homicidal philosopher-cowboy, General Gore (Nick Young), apparently, a former military propagandist.
Propagating his perfect solution for survival – namely, carrying on being himself (a debatable premise, as it turns out), propped, inevitably, with analog technology (imagine audio cassettes & a beat-up transistor radio), and waning testosterone, he stringently enters a too polished an intellectual sparing match with his Armageddon foundling, a young woman named Diane Keaton (Alexandra Slade), an idealistic experimental filmmaker, and fellow lone survivor.
In moments a jarring a mixtape of monologues sounding as if fever-typed on socials at 3 p.m. between warring tribes, and in others, a desperate grasp for a semblance of communication, which emerges as its core argument – this red/blue spat goes on for far too long, even within the film’s chronological constraints, until the story reaches its mid-term (pun intended), and several strokes of brilliance. A terrifyingly delightful string of corruptive catalysts, explosive apparitions of post-humanity, taken straight out of Burroughs.
Which made me regain faith that it has something more substantial up its sleeve than a timely but somewhat dry rant. And it has.
It must have been the unfortunate lack of on-screen emotional resonance between the leads that perhaps saturated the diegetic bunker air with an overflow of concepts and declarations, neatly divided into chapters, in moments when no words would have done the trick, yet I did like its daring, lo-fi ethos, trippy, nasty twists, and its claustrophobic wayward wit.
Author: ©Milana Vujkov