My Last Best Friend starring Eric Roberts
Director
Cast
, , , ,
Rated
Unrated
Runtime
105 min.
Release Date
09/15/2023
My Last Best Friend poster

My Last Best Friend tells the story of two New Yorkers, both named Walter Stoyanov, both played by Eric Roberts. Terrifically realized, Roberts’ two performances recall Jeremy Irons’ work in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (1988), playing distinct characters who look the same but are sharply different individuals. One is confident and organized, his deep voice and attitude suggesting a dangerous personality; the other is a mess, squirrelly, and an alcoholic, with a shrill voice and air of recklessness. The dual performance is a magic trick. But what initially looks like two brothers living across the hall from one another in their East Village apartment building is soon complicated by FBI Special Agent John McCallany (Rico Simonini) investigating Walter Stoyanov—who is/are, predictably, not what he/they seem/s.

Writer-director Filippo M. Prandi’s production, his first full-length feature, falters cinematically. The technical presentation suffers from overextending a shoestring budget, with unconvincing faux newscasts, herky-jerky camerawork and drone shots, and unfortunate false backdrops. Some of this can be explained by COVID-19 shooting conditions—the film was shot primarily in 2021—presenting a unique set of challenges for an independent production. Even giving the formal elements a pass, some of the rough spots stem from Prandi’s stiff writing, which never adequately balances the crime story with its more compelling character study, set at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather slow, overlong, and ungainly assembled, My Last Best Friend meanders with an unnecessary subplot about a sexworker (Adrienne Laurén) who is strong-armed by Agent McCallany to wear a wire. Her scenes feel shoehorned into the proceedings, recalling the movie executive in Sullivan’s Travels (1941) who demanded his latest production have “a little sex in it.” The pandemic inevitably works its way into the narrative, with one of the two Walters contracting the virus, leaving the other to grapple with his life choices. Roberts sells both the illness and the regret, but the experience wobbles when it leaves his presence. Indeed, the film might work better as a one-man two-hander, with Roberts interacting with himself. As is, everything built around his performance is heavy-handed and clunky.

(Note: My Last Best Friend will screen at the Trylon in Minneapolis on November 30 at 7 p.m.)

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