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Scenes I Go Back To: Last Life in the Universe

Hints at the bittersweet and otherworldly melancholy that gives Last Life in the Universe its emotional heft.

I often refer to Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe as a ​“comfort film.” Regardless of my mood, it’s a sure bet that as soon as I put the DVD in the player, I’ll find myself entranced and drawn in — and whatever might have been bothering me will have slowly faded away.

This is due to a combination of the film’s gentle, lyrical pace, some truly fine performances from the cast (including a wonderful turn by Tadanobu Asano), Christopher Doyle’s understated cinematography, and the fragile, ambient electronic score.

All of these — except for Asano’s performance — comes through in the clip above. The clip is from one of Last Life in the Universes more surreal scenes, as one of the main characters (played by Sinitta Boonyasak) moves through a self-cleaning house while in a drug-induced haze. It highlights the movie’s ​“magical realism” and subtly absurd humor, and in its final seconds, hints at the bittersweet and otherworldly melancholy that gives Last Life in the Universe its emotional heft.

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