SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Mudbound was a masterpiece, and I was very excited to be able to watch the newest film from writer-director Dee Rees. It turns out that The Last Thing He Wanted was the last thing I wanted to watch. I just could not get invested in this film except for tiny bits and pieces. Just know that it absolutely pains me to say this.
In the 1980s, journalist Elena McMahon (Anne Hathaway) and her photographer Alma Guerrero (Rosie Perez) return home from a dangerous assignment in El Salvador. Shortly thereafter, the secretary of state holds a press conference. Treat Morrison, played by Ben Affleck, is the government official’s assistant. He helps the secretary deflect some hard-hitting questions from Elena. At this point is when we meet who is honestly the saving grace of the entire film, Elena’s father, Dick, played by Willem Dafoe. This isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last that Dafoe has been the bright spot in an otherwise pretty dull film.
“…Dick McMahon got himself wrapped up in some shady business involving several suspicious characters in the Central American criminal underground.”
Anyway, Dick McMahon got himself wrapped up in some shady business involving several suspicious characters in the Central American criminal underground. Elena gets involved once he is put in the hospital by them. She’s on the Reagan campaign trail and completely neglects it to help her father, but also to find out more on the scoop in Central America.
At this point, the film goes off the rails entirely. I could barely tell you what happened and why from here on out. The script, which is based on a Joan Didion novel, takes too much on and doesn’t deliver. The dialogue rails at you at Aaron Sorkin speed and doesn’t ever let up. The side effect of this rushing is that you wind up not caring for any of the characters; well, except for Alma, Dick, and Toby Jones’ brief role as a resort manager who hires Elena to help clean while she’s assuming a fake identity.
"…It turns out that The Last Thing He Wanted was the last thing I wanted to watch."