More love is needed; review of “The Last Earth Girl” (USA, 2019, 98 min)
What do you get when you combine what is essentially a long existential monologue with surprisingly good special effects considering a low budget? In case of “The Last Earth Girl” an enjoyable movie if you are willing to accept honest, yet mediocre acting and pay attention to the words and their underlying feelings and thoughts. What would you do if you know life on Earth would end in seven years? The last girl decided to go on a quest to search for meaning and/or God. Seven years is an interesting range. It is different than in many similar movies with similar premises. On the one hand it is too short to plan and execute large scale human exodus from our planet with the currently available technology. This movie is set in our time, not in the future, which would allow imaginary tech. On the other hand it is long enough for planning to enjoy life for those who can and end for those who cannot.
I tried to learn more about the background of Kari Fleskes, who plays Miriam, the main character, but her Twitter, Linked and Facebook pages have been dormant or abandoned for years. Based on what I found online since she worked with a talent agency 10 years ago she hasn’t done much acting and switched to jewelry design. She did a decent job as a first time lead actor, much better than I’ve seen in lots of supposedly bigger budget movies. She showed a nice emotional and even vocal range, but it still felt like she was acting and not living the role. Her jewelry on the other hand looks splendid to me; see her shop. This film must have been Jim Weter’s, the director’s, product of passion and love. He runs his own film company, Cellardoor Cinema in Memphis and it was his fourth feature length film.
As I researched Miriam Veiss Creque, the writer of the movie, Miriam Creque, I learned on her LinkedIn page that she is interested in “humanistic psychology”. This bit of information provided a new framework for interpreting the movie. Here is a quick summary from a 1971 article, Basic theoretical concepts of humanistic psychology about what is “humanistic psychology”
(a) the study and understanding of the person as a whole, (b) the need to understand the full life history of the human being, (c) the role of intentionality in human existence, and (d) the importance of the end goal of life for the healthy person. The individual is seen as attempting to integrate the various motives that drive the person to seek self-realization and fulfillment.
Most of the time when I select a movie to watch and review I learn about from the Jewish film festivals around the world (that I monitor and add to my website) or from Jewish newspapers or newsletters. This one however showed up on my radar because of my fondness of sci-fi, particularly of the post-apocalyptic subgenre. Imagine my surprise when early on in the film I realized that it represents an overlap of two of my passions: sci-fi and Jewish film.
I started to suspect that the protagonist was Jewish early on when she framed the journey and the film with these worlds:
Just like the Passover and the four questions,
“If God is dead, why am I looking for him?
What makes me even think I know where he is?
How did I end up in a spaceship?
And what do I intend to do if I actually meet God?”
Later in the movie we see a flashback to her younger self at the Sunday school at synagogue when she answers correctly the question what the rainbow symbolized after the Biblical flood: “Hashem promised that he would never send another flood to destroy the Earth.” She went from this knowledge to observing:
God is dead At first, a lot of people listened, and they prayed that God would forgive us all. But when they began to realize that no matter how hard they prayed, no matter how much they loved God, he was taking them all down, right alongside the nonbelievers and the sinners. That was when God started to die. Hardly anyone believes in God anymore; and those that still believe, they’re angrier than ever.
Spoiler alert. After going through an inner, then a cosmic ride she found what many others did: Love matters. To be more specific: “We spent far too much time hating and hurting each other instead of being grateful to you for the chance to love and care for each other. For that, God, I beg your forgiveness.”
If you are theologically inclined or just like to think about the meaning of life you will probably enjoy the film as it contains quite a bit of thought on the pop-philosophy side through a well constructed journey, in an impressive production. If you are expecting new kind revelations on the related subjects, not just rehashing older concepts it may not bring much excitement though.