""Although this work is inspired in part by the life of Kurt Cobain, the characters in it are fictional"," runs the closing credits disclaimer on Gus Van Sant's, er, challenging 11th feature. By which point plenty of people who came to watch a rock'n'roll tragedy of sex, drugs and destruction will have long gone - - sodded off down the pub to discuss the dullest film of the year. Yes, plenty of people will find Last Days unwatchable - and that's fine. Plenty of people can be wrong.
Last Days is a love/loathe exploration of depression and death. It's not supposed to have you head-banging in the aisles. It could, though, be the most daring film Van Sant has made, ditching the obvious shock elements of its based-on-fact story in favour of portraying the dreary, desperate reality of a lonely man who can feel his will to live drifting away. Mundane tasks take on Herculean proportions when out of your gourd on smack. Blake (Michael Pitt) making macaroni and cheese is the equivalent of War Of The World's ferry capsizing in terms of set-pieces. The OD sequence set to Boyz II Men's `On Bended Knee'? It's the White House explosion in Independence Day.
Largely dialogue-free, Last Days makes its limited exchanges count. There's the record executive (Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon) who challenges Blake on how he'll tell his daughter he's thrown his life away (""I'm sorry, I'm a rock'n'roll cliché?""). There's the Yellow Pages salesman (real-life salesman Thadeus A Thomas) who asks, how's his day? ""Another day"," replies the lank-haired anti-hero.
Shot long and slow and at times almost transcendentally boring, Van Sant's latest is as much meditation as movie, making Elephant look like Con Air. Adjust to its pace; embrace it. No matter if you think Béla Tarr (the Hungarian experimental filmmaker Van Sant acknowledges as an inspiration) is a horror icon: Last Days explores the distance between perception and reality; makes you feel the humanity behind an icon and realise your own fragile mortality. Slow down. Take it in. Come as you are.
Rarely has boredom been so rewarding. Gus Van Sant's thoughtful exploration of the death of an icon will haunt you. Make time for it.