Human beings have a unique ability to deceive themselves so effectively that they believe their own lies. Take the adolescent boy who can have an extended conversation with a girl he likes and convince himself that she is his girlfriend. Calvin Wizzig is that boy.
Calvin has so fallen in love with the idea of being a “romantic” and a poet that he has convinced himself that he is one. So much so that he actually packs up and heads to New York with the idea that he can become a published writer and enjoy the instant fame and success he believes comes with that. The problem is, he is not a romantic at heart and is certainly not a poet. His entire body of work consists of two short poems buried in the scribbled pages of a small notepad. What follows is the humorous and touching story of a man who is forced to come to terms with reality.
Calvin meets a cast of bizarre characters along his way to enlightenment and these detours often lead the movie into surreal territory. His first encounter is a woman on a subway train who he falls instantly in love with. To express his feelings for her he writes her a poem. She gets off at the next stop. This woman will become as much of a concern for Calvin as getting published is. Love at first sight. The one that got away. It’s all so romantic, don’t you think? Unfortunately, this obsession with the girl on the train causes Calvin to overlook his true chance at romance. Calvin first notices Christy at a restaurant. She is dressed like a cat and acts accordingly. He buys her a saucer of milk and finds out she is an actress in a play about cats (not the one you’re thinking of). Christy offers the homeless Calvin a place to stay and the friendless Calvin a companion, but Calvin proves that he once again is more in love with idea of love than the reality of it. He chooses his lost girl on the train.
Other characters he encounters along the way include a woman who pays men to pretend to marry her to please her senile father, an old acquaintance that wants nothing to do with him, and, most importantly, an author who just may be able to get him published.
“The Last Romantic” is a fascinating look at a character who will go to the ends of the earth to follow his dream but does everything in his power to keep that dream from becoming a reality. There are people willing to help this aspiring artist but he refuses to do anything more than seem earnest.
Adam Nee is perfect in the role of Calvin Wizzig. He is able to walk to the line between heart on your sleeve honesty and self deception in a way that is totally believable and relatable. The rest of the cast performs admirably as well, especially Shalom Harlow as Christy. She portrays such a kind hearted person that you can’t help but fall in love with her, and wonder why Calvin refuses to do that same.
The other Nee, Aaron, works his magic from behind the camera and through the use of color allows us entry into the mind of Calvin. He is equally comfortable with over saturating colors to achieve a dreamlike quality as he is with utilizing black and white and his experimenting makes the movie a real visual treat.
“The Last Romantic” is a cautionary tale for dreamers. Wanting something is not the same as having it and loving is not the same as wanting.