Cities of Last Things

2018

Cities of Last Things

Critics Consensus

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79%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 14

62%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 20
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Movie Info

Three extraordinary nights in the life of an ordinary man- each involving a different woman, each changing his existence for good.

Cast

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Critic Reviews for Cities of Last Things

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (3)

  • As the full picture comes into focus, the narrative can tend toward the trite. The chief pleasure of the movie is the 35-millimeter cinematography of Jean Louis Vialard.

    Jul 11, 2019 | Full Review…
  • "Cities of Last Things," which adroitly makes the most of handcuffs as a visual metaphor, displays a keen, wry understanding of that gimmick, and it makes for a surprisingly effective slice of dystopian noir.

    Jul 11, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The story does reward the effort it takes to unkink it, turning into an ever-decreasing circle of broken connections...

    Sep 17, 2018 | Full Review…

    Jessica Kiang

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Though it takes a little while for the film to find its footing, this is an ambitious and, finally, also touching new work from Pinoy Sunday director Ho Wi Ding.

    Sep 13, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This intriguing, atmospheric movie from Malaysian director Ho Wi Ding tells its twisting story in reverse chronological order featuring its embittered protagonist in pivotal moments at three stages of life.

    Sep 10, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Sex, violence, suicide in thoughtful noir drama.

    Jul 17, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cities of Last Things

  • Aug 05, 2019
    This is the first review in about two weeks that I actually begin writing on my laptop on Gmail. Let's see how long this lasts, considering the fact that the laptop shut down on its own a few times as I was trying to boot it up, so I don't expect this to hold up that much. This laptop, when I first got it, was shutting down on its own less than a week after I started using it and that was, like, almost five years ago. I think this has lasted me as long as it did as a result of the fact that I've started using my smartphone for shit that I usually left for the laptop, so I haven't used it as much as other laptops I had in the past. I just like writing reviews on the laptop, given the fact that I have an actual, large keyboard to type in, instead of a condensed version on my phone. And I don't even write the reviews in landscape mode on my phone. I like to see what I'm writing on Samsung Notes, hence why I write holding my phone like you would hold it normally. Neither here nor there, I suppose. Let's keep going with this review, see how far I can go. This movie is certainly an...interesting watch to say the least. And I say interesting legitimately, this movie is certainly ambitious and uncompromising in its approach to its story, which plays out in reverse chronological order and looks at three different nights, across the years, in the life of one man. First night takes place when he's in his 50s, I'm assuming, when he exacts revenge against a former co-worker for sleeping with his wife. He murders his wife and her current lover. All of these murders occur on the same night. Second night takes place in his 20s, as a cop, when he finds out that the Vice Captain (the man he kills in his 50s) is fucking his wife. He runs away with this French woman he originally arrested on this same night. He plots to run away with this woman, after they spend the night together, but he gets framed for accepting bribes and is held in the station before the woman, inevitably, ends up leaving, dejected. And the third is as a teenager, when he comes across his mother, who abandoned him as a young child to pursue a criminal lifestyle. So the film looks at three pivotal moments in this man's life and how the events of those nights have led him to where he, inevitably, ends up. But getting to that point, which really only becomes clear in the last segment of the film, might be a bit laborious for some of you that might not necessarily have the patience to stick with this film. Because, I'll be honest, until that last act, one fails to see the point of what we're watching. How does it all fit together? And, in a way, it does, because you could make the argument that Dong-ling experiencing his mother's death, she was shot on the way to the courtroom or something, is what set him down this path to his eventual death at the end of the first segment in the film. His abandonment issues boiling over past its natural breaking point into an outburst of violence that ends in his death. I've always liked movies that play in reverse chronological order for this very reason. I think there's a certain inevitability that is more present when the film is presented this way than it would be if it had been told in chronological order. Like, for example, at the end of Irreversible, Monica Bellucci's character finds out she's pregnant and that makes what transpires all the more tragic and affecting. The film ends at that specific character's happiest moments, not knowing how the rest of the day is gonna transpire. And that inevitability, since you've already seen what will happen to her, is really effective. I'm not saying that this reaches Irreversible levels of effectiveness, but I like that and I wish more films would implement it. I don't mean more films in reverse chronological order, but I mean stories where you can clearly tell where the character is headed through his/her actions and there's nobody anybody can do to stop it. Everybody BUT the character knows where he/she will end up. I had that feeling with Carrie last year. I know how it was gonna end and, yet, somehow, that made the movie even better. This movie has some of that, but considering this is a more artful in its presentation, then they don't necessarily get the most out of this. I will say that this move is well made and, as a whole, I would call it good, but there is also a part of me that feels like this movie takes itself way too seriously. The way the film makes it seem, Dong-ling's only literal happy moment is with his mother, as a toddler, pushing him on a swing. Everything else is about betrayals, depression, abandonment, murders, suicides, etc. Fucking hell, lighten up a little bit. I'm not saying that you completely change the entire tone of the film. I get what they were going for, Dong-ling's been doomed to this end since his mother abandoned him, but show us some light, some beauty in his life. And I guess that's what they do with the lone scene elder Dong-ling has with his daughter. But even then, the whole scene has this depressing overtone since the daughter is gonna move away with her boyfriend. So, his abandonment issues continue to show themselves, even in the scenes that are meant to be nice. It is what it is, but for a bit of dynamism and to show us that Dong-ling, in his last moments, is more than just a person consumed by vengeance and hatred. The movie doesn't do that. It is what it is, but I felt that tonally, the movie is insistently depressing. It's still a pretty good movie. It's well-made, has excellent cinematography and has a really strong cast. So, clearly, the movie is good. But it's a good movie that should have probably been better with a more involving narrative that looked at both the good and bad and not just focused so heavily on the latter. Still, this is a solid movie that's gonna be a bit of an acquired taste for most of you.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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