“Alexander the Last” doesn’t concern itself much with plot. While mapping the difference between true love and love that can develop in artistic spheres, this film instead attempts to be a mood piece, dwelling on drawn-out sex scenes, cutesy moments, and its claustrophobic camera work.
While different shots do work very well on their own, as a whole the film is too concerned with its deep themes and not concerned enough with its characters. It’s fun to watch two sisters imitate baby cries, but cute scenes like this fail to develop the relationship between the two sisters. Delving into the lives of five characters, the film offers a runtime not long enough to get to know these people. Without a full sense of them, individual scenes start to contradict themselves. Everything is far too disjointed to realize the character arcs.
One of the best ways to get to know the players in “Alexander” is through sex scenes, which is something I find interesting. What someone does or does not do during all the graphic sex suddenly defines exactly who they are. Likewise, how someone like a director (played by the fabulous Jane Adams) might show actors how to fake sex is equally telling. And let’s not forget the hairy b******e shot that is sure to get the MPAA riled up. While the flasher rarely utters a full line of dialogue that can define him, the fact that said b******e is hairy is. . . something.
Although the character development is lacking, the camera work – tight close-ups with a handheld – is perfect for the tiny New York apartments featured. Though we don’t get any intimacy in the writing of the film, the unique angles of the camera somehow capture mood perfectly. Another bright spot in an otherwise fairly boring film is Bishop Allen lead singer, Justin Rice, who plays a musician frequently on tour, leaving his actress wife behind to (maybe?) develop a crush on Hairy B******e. Rice is adorable and convincing in his short screen time and suddenly provides an interesting character for us to watch whenever he shows up.
A film about the difficulty of keeping a marriage between artists alive, “Alexander the Last” ultimately suffers from its big themes and its short runtime. A film that strives for realism (they end up on a boat – that’s as real as it gets!) really needs to take the time to flesh out character and plot.