Last Exit to Brooklyn Reviews

  • Jun 07, 2019

    In this adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.'s controversial novel, the Cimmerian gloom and oppressive damnation of the titular borough's working class in the 1950s make for an indelible uncompromisingly heart-wrenching cinema experience.

    In this adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.'s controversial novel, the Cimmerian gloom and oppressive damnation of the titular borough's working class in the 1950s make for an indelible uncompromisingly heart-wrenching cinema experience.

  • Mar 30, 2017

    very dark and depressing movie but worth the watch for Jennifer Jason Leigh

    very dark and depressing movie but worth the watch for Jennifer Jason Leigh

  • Mar 23, 2016

    A difficult to watch, multilayered drama set in a world of its own. The way the characters are portrayed and the way their stories are laid out is done in such a way where it's easy to track the lives of these seemingly real/desperate people. The best thing about it is probably the performances, most notably Jennifer Jason Leigh, who takes on an astounding persona.

    A difficult to watch, multilayered drama set in a world of its own. The way the characters are portrayed and the way their stories are laid out is done in such a way where it's easy to track the lives of these seemingly real/desperate people. The best thing about it is probably the performances, most notably Jennifer Jason Leigh, who takes on an astounding persona.

  • May 26, 2015

    Skip this movie and read the book. Uli Edel seems more interested in shocking and repulsing the audience rather than explore the humanity and truth that Selby so potently captured. Jennifer Jason-Leigh is the only participant who manages to actually breath believable life into her role. But she doesn't manage to escape the cruel exploitation the film presents. Selby's poetic bleakness has been over-acted, exploited and all that the filmmakers leaves us is a brutally cruel movie.

    Skip this movie and read the book. Uli Edel seems more interested in shocking and repulsing the audience rather than explore the humanity and truth that Selby so potently captured. Jennifer Jason-Leigh is the only participant who manages to actually breath believable life into her role. But she doesn't manage to escape the cruel exploitation the film presents. Selby's poetic bleakness has been over-acted, exploited and all that the filmmakers leaves us is a brutally cruel movie.

  • Apr 18, 2015

    This is some of Leigh's best work and the real reason to see this even if the last 15 minutes are just so difficult to watch.

    This is some of Leigh's best work and the real reason to see this even if the last 15 minutes are just so difficult to watch.

  • Oct 07, 2014

    During a labour strike in the early 1950's in the gritty streets of Brooklyn, Harry Black (Stephen Lang), the leader of the strike office falls suddenly in love with a sensual transvestite and while he struggles to deal with this swift change in his life, his wife and child are neglected at home. On the same streets Tralala (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a lost soul who works as a hooker, tries to trick soldiers and other drunken males of their money. Intertwined with Harry and Tralala, other people in the same neighbourhood struggles with various personal problems and issues. The connecting thread is the desperation for love and confirmation... "Last Exit to Brooklyn" is a 1964 novel by American author Hubert Selby, Jr. The novel has become a cult classic because of its harsh, uncompromising look at lower class Brooklyn in the 1950s and for its brusque, everyman style of prose. Although critics and fellow writers praised the book on its release, "Last Exit to Brooklyn" caused much controversy because of its frank portrayals of taboo subjects, such as drug use, street violence, gang rape, homosexuality, transvestism and domestic violence. It was the subject of an important obscenity trial in the United Kingdom and was banned in Italy. There had been several attempts to adapt "Last Exit to Brooklyn" into a film prior to this version. One of the earliest attempts was made by producer Steve Krantz and animator Ralph Bakshi, who wanted to direct a live-action film based on the novel. Bakshi had sought out the rights to the novel after completing Heavy Traffic, a film which shared many themes with Selby's novel. Selby agreed to the adaptation, and actor Robert De Niro accepted the role of Harry in Strike. According to Bakshi, "the whole thing fell apart when Krantz and I had a falling out over past business. It was a disappointment to me and Selby. Selby and I tried a few other screenplays after that on other subjects, but I could not shake Last Exit from my mind." In 1989, director Uli Edel adapted the novel into a film. The screenplay was written by Desmond Nakano. Selby made a cameo appearance in the film as the taxi driver who accidentally hits the transvestite Georgette (played by Alexis Arquette). Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits provided the film score. The film version received excellent reviews and won a few critics' awards for Leigh's portrayal of Tralala, though its limited distribution and downbeat subject matter prevented it from becoming a commercial success. Ralph Bakshi referred to Edel's film as being "like a hot dog without mustard," saying that the film "was done horribly." "Last Exit to Brooklyn" puts the focus on love and the strong bond between humans, both in love relations and in family relations. The film handles also violence and the weak human nature when instincts takes over. The violence is harsh and unjustified/brutal as in real life, which is also a strength in the movie. The gang-rape of Tralala is truly emotionally strong and difficult to watch. Both Stephen Lang and Jennifer Jason Leigh is at the top of their A-game. The general vibe is gritty, dangerous, dirty, ugly and dark plus that the movie carries an "authentic" stamp all over it. Despite the fact that the movie sometimes feels a bit over theatrical. I reckon due to the fact that the director wanted to include all the different storylines and characters in the book, we get a bit of a uneven story since some characters and their stories are not as strong as Harry and Tralala´s descend into darkness. "Last Exit to Brooklyn" is a powerful piece of film for sure and it gives us a different vision of the 50´s, normally portrayed as colourful and glitzy. The movie challenges you to think about the universal things in life, about humanity and the actions taken.

    During a labour strike in the early 1950's in the gritty streets of Brooklyn, Harry Black (Stephen Lang), the leader of the strike office falls suddenly in love with a sensual transvestite and while he struggles to deal with this swift change in his life, his wife and child are neglected at home. On the same streets Tralala (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a lost soul who works as a hooker, tries to trick soldiers and other drunken males of their money. Intertwined with Harry and Tralala, other people in the same neighbourhood struggles with various personal problems and issues. The connecting thread is the desperation for love and confirmation... "Last Exit to Brooklyn" is a 1964 novel by American author Hubert Selby, Jr. The novel has become a cult classic because of its harsh, uncompromising look at lower class Brooklyn in the 1950s and for its brusque, everyman style of prose. Although critics and fellow writers praised the book on its release, "Last Exit to Brooklyn" caused much controversy because of its frank portrayals of taboo subjects, such as drug use, street violence, gang rape, homosexuality, transvestism and domestic violence. It was the subject of an important obscenity trial in the United Kingdom and was banned in Italy. There had been several attempts to adapt "Last Exit to Brooklyn" into a film prior to this version. One of the earliest attempts was made by producer Steve Krantz and animator Ralph Bakshi, who wanted to direct a live-action film based on the novel. Bakshi had sought out the rights to the novel after completing Heavy Traffic, a film which shared many themes with Selby's novel. Selby agreed to the adaptation, and actor Robert De Niro accepted the role of Harry in Strike. According to Bakshi, "the whole thing fell apart when Krantz and I had a falling out over past business. It was a disappointment to me and Selby. Selby and I tried a few other screenplays after that on other subjects, but I could not shake Last Exit from my mind." In 1989, director Uli Edel adapted the novel into a film. The screenplay was written by Desmond Nakano. Selby made a cameo appearance in the film as the taxi driver who accidentally hits the transvestite Georgette (played by Alexis Arquette). Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits provided the film score. The film version received excellent reviews and won a few critics' awards for Leigh's portrayal of Tralala, though its limited distribution and downbeat subject matter prevented it from becoming a commercial success. Ralph Bakshi referred to Edel's film as being "like a hot dog without mustard," saying that the film "was done horribly." "Last Exit to Brooklyn" puts the focus on love and the strong bond between humans, both in love relations and in family relations. The film handles also violence and the weak human nature when instincts takes over. The violence is harsh and unjustified/brutal as in real life, which is also a strength in the movie. The gang-rape of Tralala is truly emotionally strong and difficult to watch. Both Stephen Lang and Jennifer Jason Leigh is at the top of their A-game. The general vibe is gritty, dangerous, dirty, ugly and dark plus that the movie carries an "authentic" stamp all over it. Despite the fact that the movie sometimes feels a bit over theatrical. I reckon due to the fact that the director wanted to include all the different storylines and characters in the book, we get a bit of a uneven story since some characters and their stories are not as strong as Harry and Tralala´s descend into darkness. "Last Exit to Brooklyn" is a powerful piece of film for sure and it gives us a different vision of the 50´s, normally portrayed as colourful and glitzy. The movie challenges you to think about the universal things in life, about humanity and the actions taken.

  • Sep 02, 2014

    As described, a rather brutal, bleak masterpiece. Well I don't know about a masterpiece but a heck of a good film. JJ Leigh steals the film but ther are several fine performances. Not sure how true to the book the film stays as I haven't read the book but I may ow after seeing the film.

    As described, a rather brutal, bleak masterpiece. Well I don't know about a masterpiece but a heck of a good film. JJ Leigh steals the film but ther are several fine performances. Not sure how true to the book the film stays as I haven't read the book but I may ow after seeing the film.

  • May 16, 2014

    Without hope and nihilistic to the core, this will not be a film for everyone. Edel's film adaptation is not as potent as Selby's novel, but the tone is captured. It should also be noted that if the film were any more dark it would be unwatchable. There are some minor flaws. One flaw that really sticks out on the newly remastered blu-ray is some sort of odd audio issue with the voice of a key character. Granted it has been years since I had seen this film, but I do not remember this oddly deep over-dub'd voice heard on the new blu-ray. At any rate, the film is of note if for nothing else than Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stephen Lang's performances. Devastating and unforgettable work by both actors.

    Without hope and nihilistic to the core, this will not be a film for everyone. Edel's film adaptation is not as potent as Selby's novel, but the tone is captured. It should also be noted that if the film were any more dark it would be unwatchable. There are some minor flaws. One flaw that really sticks out on the newly remastered blu-ray is some sort of odd audio issue with the voice of a key character. Granted it has been years since I had seen this film, but I do not remember this oddly deep over-dub'd voice heard on the new blu-ray. At any rate, the film is of note if for nothing else than Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stephen Lang's performances. Devastating and unforgettable work by both actors.

  • Feb 24, 2014

    Within the brutality of this story are some amazing performances and brilliant cinematography by Stefan Czapsky. A work filled with grit, desolation and desperation, it can be a difficult film to willingly sit down and try to "enjoy," but then one would miss the beauty that can be found in Stephan Lang's performance as Harry, dim and rough and tortured. One would not see Jennifer Jason Leigh delve again into the darkness of a character - Tralala, a frightened girl trying to find any way to feel an ounce of worthiness, or the heartbreaking turn by Cameron Johann as Spook, the boy who just wants Tralala to notice him. Czapsky - who a year later would begin his collaboration with Tim Burton, which yielded Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and Ed Wood - embraced the darkness so beautifully in this lighting, and the detail of the dirty locales so perfectly with lens choices that one cannot but feel uncomfortable, and unclean. Uli Edel's work as director can best be seen in the performances, with his actors trusting him to reach into the underbelly of humanity. While some felt that the film wasn't bleak enough, softening the blow of Herbert Selby, Jr's novel, there is still quite the hammer wielded by Edel, included Tralala's ultimate fall into the abyss. This is not a film for a fun Friday night with friends, but if one is willing to walk through a grater and find the brilliance of a cast and crew buying into the hard truth of a work, Last Exit to Brooklyn is certainly worthy of that examination.

    Within the brutality of this story are some amazing performances and brilliant cinematography by Stefan Czapsky. A work filled with grit, desolation and desperation, it can be a difficult film to willingly sit down and try to "enjoy," but then one would miss the beauty that can be found in Stephan Lang's performance as Harry, dim and rough and tortured. One would not see Jennifer Jason Leigh delve again into the darkness of a character - Tralala, a frightened girl trying to find any way to feel an ounce of worthiness, or the heartbreaking turn by Cameron Johann as Spook, the boy who just wants Tralala to notice him. Czapsky - who a year later would begin his collaboration with Tim Burton, which yielded Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns and Ed Wood - embraced the darkness so beautifully in this lighting, and the detail of the dirty locales so perfectly with lens choices that one cannot but feel uncomfortable, and unclean. Uli Edel's work as director can best be seen in the performances, with his actors trusting him to reach into the underbelly of humanity. While some felt that the film wasn't bleak enough, softening the blow of Herbert Selby, Jr's novel, there is still quite the hammer wielded by Edel, included Tralala's ultimate fall into the abyss. This is not a film for a fun Friday night with friends, but if one is willing to walk through a grater and find the brilliance of a cast and crew buying into the hard truth of a work, Last Exit to Brooklyn is certainly worthy of that examination.

  • Aug 24, 2013

    Okay so the movie was never boring and it's production design is amazing, but was there one likable character in this whole film? I mean most of the characters are under written or under developed, and the many side stories going on in the film, I don't think one was given a proper ending. I think even with the unlikable characters, the film could have been very good had they let the movie go on a bit longer to sew up all the plot lines. The entire center revolves around an area of Brooklyn dealing with a strike. That plot actually goes somewhere. But we don't really get any other answers for what ever happened to Lang? Why did Leigh do what she did in the end, and what happened to her after? The cast is mostly okay, but when you take Alexis Arquette and Stephen Baldwin, you are getting the lesser of the family talent. And what was the deal with the main Navy guy's voice??? That wasn't real was it? It's a good period piece to see for all the work the production did on it and to see a great role by Jennifer Jason Leigh, but not much else.

    Okay so the movie was never boring and it's production design is amazing, but was there one likable character in this whole film? I mean most of the characters are under written or under developed, and the many side stories going on in the film, I don't think one was given a proper ending. I think even with the unlikable characters, the film could have been very good had they let the movie go on a bit longer to sew up all the plot lines. The entire center revolves around an area of Brooklyn dealing with a strike. That plot actually goes somewhere. But we don't really get any other answers for what ever happened to Lang? Why did Leigh do what she did in the end, and what happened to her after? The cast is mostly okay, but when you take Alexis Arquette and Stephen Baldwin, you are getting the lesser of the family talent. And what was the deal with the main Navy guy's voice??? That wasn't real was it? It's a good period piece to see for all the work the production did on it and to see a great role by Jennifer Jason Leigh, but not much else.