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The Living Wake (2010)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 626

My Rating

Movie Info

"The Living Wake" is a dark comedy set in a timeless storybook universe. Self-proclaimed artist and genius, K. Roth Binew (Mike O'Connell), has one day to live. He has enlisted his best and only friend, Mills Joquin (Jesse Eisenberg), to take him around on a bicycle powered rickshaw. In a final attempt to probe life's deepest mysteries, Binew endures one ridiculous trial after the next. He concludes his day with a final performance, his living wake. On a makeshift stage in an open field, Binew's


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Peter Kline, Mike O'Connell

Aug 10, 2010


Mangusta Productions - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (8) | DVD (2)

In all, it's a peculiar piece of absurdist entertainment that occupies a singular niche in American indie cinema.

June 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the end, however, pic defies all categorization, joining a small pantheon of pics including "Withnail & I" and Peter Greenaway's "Drowning byNumbers" that whistle past the graveyard with aplomb.

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sol Tryon's The Living Wake seems but a protracted act of stultifying self-indulgence -- but then maybe that's the point.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Strains to accommodate its daft premise and pontificating lead.

May 14, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a terminally whimsical vanity project that would probably have been a chore to sit through even in its original intended format, a 20-minute stage monologue.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wes Anderson has much to answer for.

May 13, 2010 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Funny, touching, insane, ridiculous and brilliant are just a few words I would use to describe "The Living Wake." Films like this need to be seen so seek it out, you'll be glad you did.

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

An out-of-the-blue delight...I found (central character K. Roth) Binew to be inspiring and damn funny in his lack of a psychological/vocal filter.

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Dearest
Movie Dearest

An alienating experience up until the final fifteen minutes when, during the titular ceremony, it suddenly seems loveable-like an annoyingly oafish pup that won't stop nuzzling until you break down and scratch its belly.

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

A small, peculiar film with a big, grating personality, The Living Wake is like a party crasher at an intimate gathering, momentarily intriguing and difficult to forget, but mostly for the wrong reasons.

May 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

we get the sense that O'Connell is having all the fun, leaving the rest of us to suffer through the indulgences of this aggressively awful comedy

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

For some reason, despite the constant breaking of the fourth wall, O'Connell thinks we'll care about the twerpy Binew and find his demise moving.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source:

A refreshingly original, well-acted and delightfully bizarre amalgamation of comedy, satire, drama and tragedy that's often amusing and unpredictable, but lacks a genuinely poignant emotional core.

May 12, 2010 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

So insistently irritating and so consistently lacking in laughs that Sol Tryon's alleged comedy quickly becomes an exercise in exhaustion.

May 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for The Living Wake

An eccentric with a mysterious, fatal illness spends the last day of his life searching for his father who will deliver a "brief but powerful monologue" about life's purpose.
Half of this film begs us to take it seriously, as though it has something profound and original to say about life and death, and the other half avoids any serious consideration in favor of broad and over-the-top comedy. The result is a mixed bag that falls short in both goals.
The film's energy comes from the lead performance by Mike O'Connell; the set must not have had craft service because he chews the scenery like a starving orphan. The character K. Roth Binew is written to be larger than life, but O'Connell makes him even larger. I found myself wishing that Binew could have been played by Albert Finney, channeling his Big Fish character. Jesse Eisenberg is wonderful as Binew's eternally faithful and loyal assistant, a thankless character that Eisenberg mines for gold.
Overall, despite O'Connell's over-the-top performance, there are a lot of little parts, moments of philosophical truth, that make this film worth watching even if the whole is inconsistent and flawed.
November 19, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Cast: Mike O'Connell, Jesse Eisenberg, Jim Gaffigan, Ann Dowd, Eddie Pepitone, Diane Kagan, Matthew Cowles, Jill Larson, Kurt Haas

Director: Sol Tryon

Summary: When his doctor informs him he'll die soon from an unnamed disease, self-proclaimed artist K. Roth Binew (Mike O'Connell) -- who's never completed a work of art -- decides to celebrate his life with a party in this absurdist black comedy. As poet and biographer Mills Joaquin (Jesse Eisenberg) drives him around in a bicycle-powered rickshaw, New delivers invitations for the wake that will occur that evening.

My Thoughts: "Quite the odd, quirky, artsy, and original film. The main character was a bit ridiculous and over the top, but again quite enjoyable to watch as he rambled on. It is a movie that stands on its own, haven't seen anything quite like it before which is always a good and bad thing. Some people won't like it and other's will. I enjoyed it for most parts. Of course the ending was the best part for me. Very dramatic and I loved the song."
October 1, 2010

Super Reviewer

For the record, K. Roth Binew(Mike O'Connell, who also co-wrote the script) is not a relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. Rather, he is a writer/poet/former mental patient, whose father(Jim Gaffigan) abandoned him before he could teach him the secret of the one great monologue, and has been diagnosed with an unnamed/vague/fatal disease. On his final day on this planet, he is accompanied as always by Mills(Jesse Eisenberg), his man/chauffeur/biographer, to hand out invitations to his wake that night, starting with his belligerent neighbor Reginald(Eddie Pepitone). Sadly, the viking funeral is not an option at the undertakers, so he visits a prostitute(Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine) to cheer himself up.

"The Living Wake" is a movie undone by too much quirkiness when less would have been more and that especially applies to the character of K. Roth Binew who just never shuts up. A much better approach would have been to pull the camera back to show the world in relation to him. A key example would have been in the scene with the prostitute which should have had a wider frame in showing both the sex and Mills taking notes simultaneously, emphasizing how he tilts the axis of the world just a little towards the strange. Just because Binew is intent on telling his own story(and isn't that Mills' job anyway?) does not mean that the movie has to play into the narcissism of the character unless the filmmakers are maybe narcissists themselves? That being said, the climax is definitely moving, even if it is too little too late.
August 13, 2011
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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