Wisconsin-based filmmaker Klifford Barkus's 15-minute short film Last Resort is said to be based loosely based on actual events, though one would certainly guess as much from the film's earnest, sincere approach to the life of Luke, sensitively portrayed by Barkus, a social loner challenged by depression after a mental breakdown. As time continues to move forward, Luke's struggle to move forward intensifies and even professional help can't seem to distract Luke from negative perception of past events including his own suicide attempt.
There's nothing worse, one could say, than being a failure at being a failure.
Last Resort seeks to both entertain and inform, Barkus's approach a little unusual even if the film itself is a somewhat familiar approach to tackling a difficult subject. Barkus's performance here is commendable, informed and intelligent, while various vocal actors add significant weight to the goings on here.
Last Resort is a messy film because, precisely, life is a messy experience. There are no real Hallmark greeting card moments for the vast majority of humanity and an awful lot of people struggle silently with self-loathing, self hate and that ever present suicidal impulse.
I'm not sure that Barkus knew, or would have wanted to know, that when he sent me Last Resort he was sending the film to someone whose wife had killed herself, simultaneously taking out our newborn daughter, and that suicide had taken the lives of a best friend, a couple other friends, at least three extended relatives and, yes, suicide attempts are scattered out amongst the family tree including three of four immediate family members and multiple other close friends. Having worked in the field of suicide intervention for ten years, I'm not so much an expert as someone whose life has been constantly impacted by suicide.
But then again, maybe that's the point of Last Resort. We think we're alone, but we're not alone. We share our story, and some of us begin to not feel so alone and we feel better. Some don't.
Last Resort is Barkus's third film. While not a flawless film, it's a meaningful one that will resonate with those it's supposed to reach. It's an honest, authentic film that tackles a difficult subject and tackles it with dignity and sensitivity but, alas, also with a jarring amount of honesty.
The third film from Barkus, Last Resort is just getting started on the film festival circuit.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic