The Last Days Of Disco is a brisk, if relatively plotless, ponder on the aches and cravings of youthful hedonism on the edge of an age of ambition. It's Slacker reworked by Bret Easton Ellis and, despite the disjointed approach, writer/director Stillman glues everything together with a gift for crisp, dogmatic dialogue. ("A lot of people won't take no for an answer. I wanted you to know that I'm not one of them. I can be discouraged.")
The main focus is Alice (Sevigny, Steve Buscemi's Lolita-lure in Trees Lounge), who works as a poorly paid publisher's assistant and, following an unsatisfactorily chaste college life, is torn between the priorities of business and pleasure. Charlotte (Beckinsale, the machiavellian beauty from Shooting Fish) is her acidic room-mate and co-worker, who maintains a humdrum dalliance with Jimmy (Astin), an oily ad-agency weekender. The key peripherals are Josh (Keeslar), a lithium-blunted neurotic with designs on Alice, and Des (Eigeman), the club's duplicitous assistant manager with two bad habits: snorting cocaine and dumping his girlfriends by claiming to be gay.
Although we rarely spend time any-where other than the club and the characters' apartments, Stillman's cast carry the slow-paced action with scattershot epigrams and comic brashness. It may lack the razzle and technical audacity of Boogie Nights, but this yearning for simpler times, about change, growing up and getting sensible, is more deliberately knowing and stylised than Saturday Night Fever. As Des puts it: "Getting seriously involved with someone really ruins your nightlife."
An alluring, reflective rom-com alive with wit and precision-scripting. It's no Boogie Nights, but with a half-decent cast and enthusiasm to spare, The Last Days Of Disco is welcome affirmation that indie doesn't necessarily mean arty.