Pleasant Yet Ineffective Dreams: Our Review of ‘Sadie’s Last Days on Earth’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - December 09, 2016
Pleasant Yet Ineffective Dreams: Our Review of ‘Sadie’s Last Days on Earth’

A girl wakes up her classmate for a bad dream. In that dream the two of them are trying to survive an earthquake. But unlike her dreams she’s usually alone. She does talk to people sometimes, like her parents or a local merchant. However, all she talks about is the impending apocalypse. To add some context, the film’s setting is 2012. That year there was a phenomenon when some believed that the world was going to end on December 21st, 2012. But she doesn’t just focus on the countdown towards the big, fateful day. She’s also trying to live like a normal, teenage girl.

We’re seeing a combination of the apocalypse movie and the teenage romantic comedy, and unfortunately there’s little that’s new here. We see a portrayal of the character’s apocalypse delusions as quirky. Some genre films treat any character’s qualities that way. And the apocalypse is an obvious metaphor for the uncertainties that adolescents feel. Her obsessions is also symbolic of the myopic stereotypical teen. And of course, she meets a boy who ‘understands’ her. The teen genre has made us suffer through manic pixie dream girls. But a gender role reversal somehow doesn’t feel progressive.

Sadie’s Last Days on Earth shows the possibility of a person understanding someone crazier than them. Sadie Mitchell (Morgan Taylor Campbell) and Brennan (Clark Backo) are the two classmates. The boy is Jack Diaz (Ricardo Hoyos). Being the new kid on the block, Jack changes the dynamic between the two girls. Writer-director Michael Seater has previously explored strained friendships and unrequited loves in his previous film People Hold On. Lauren Collins, a woman open about her own issues, also worked on the film’s story. I have to take that into consideration in case this work is very personal to her. Although a lot gets lost in translation.

Added to the mix is Teddy (Munro Chambers). He’s a friend of Sadie’s who isn’t as alarmed with the latter’s changes. His obsession with organizing big house parties. His character actually makes an interesting foil against both Sadie and Brennan. And a teen movie isn’t complete without its equally dysfunctional adults. There are her parents Grace (Helene Joy) and Rodger (Peter Keleghan) who are on two minds about her doomsday obsession. There’s  Sadie’s teacher Connie (Paula Brancati) who lets the former know about her impending divorce. Sadie also occasionally sees Gord (George Stromboulopoulos), who sells her apocalypse supplies.

Again, with Sadie’s Last Days on Earth, Seater exchanges People Hold On‘s bitter tone with youthful eccentricity. I’m still trying to grapple with what it says about its characters’ many anxieties. Perhaps it’s that it makes characters deliberately misunderstand each other, but that ends up seeming like a contrivance. Or that it makes these characters forget their more positive qualities. So much that they end up having to reassure each other in stilted motivational speeches. And another trapping of a high school film is that it ends up being too polished. That makes it harder for me to get into the characters’ heads.

One thing – I noticed that the actors playing the teens wear a lot of baggy clothing. It’s the oldest trick a movie makes to hide that these actors are older than their young characters. The costumes suggest more of a chilly summer night instead of the late months of 2012. I remember that as a brutal Canadian winter, eventually surpassed by the one after it. And that winter happened because the world unfortunately didn’t end. I also have to take budgetary concerns into consideration when a shoestring movie tries to do anything. But that goof, as one of many, took me back from believing this movie.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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