The Living End - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Living End Reviews

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May 15, 2015
I admit I've a very personal connection to this film. I saw it in my early 20's when I was at my most political regarding AIDS. For out queer men who were either in their 20s or 30's this movie was a sort of angry road trip movie that was both cathartic and tragic. Though it is very low budget and has more than a few flaws - it does deserve mention for capturing a cultural moment in American Queer Culture.
February 15, 2015
As much as I love the 1990s, some pretty crappy stuff also came out of it. This film is one of them.
June 26, 2013
Beautifully shot, with some interesting ideas, but not overly entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2013
I remember really liking this movie back in the 90's. Was excited to see it on DVD for rental. Well, I have to say I had forgotten most of the story apart from it being a road trip movie about two men living with AIDS, so I was interested to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Though it's obviously dated now, I still found it quite compelling viewing with a unique style. Craig Gilmore in particular is great as Jon. Very sympathetic character. Won't be for all, is pretty bleak and confronting, but I found it worth the rewatch.
March 4, 2013
One of my favorite films. Probably saw it ten times before i bought DVD.
½ September 29, 2012
This provocative film teeters between shockingly disturbing scenes and happy-go-lucky humor. The emotion and uncertainty created around the main character learning his HIV-positive status carried my interest through the entire movie. Having said that, the positive relationship that develops between the main characters and the film's ability to find humor in the face of death give it an added boost. While many of Akira's other movies are known for being over-the-top, the acting and dialogue in this film all seemed genuine and appropriate for the setting. The film's finale fails to deliver closure to the story, however, it manages to provide enough direction to the story to satisfy this viewer. The Living End is at least commendable for confronting social issues that many would prefer left alone.
May 20, 2012
I wanted to like this film more than I did. I figure it was the fact that I didn't feel like the actors truly loved each other. I guess it was the acting that got in the way.
½ May 19, 2012
As low budget as it is there is something just deliciously wrong about this movie I have always loved ever since I first saw it. It's not about being dire and depressed or helpless.
½ April 21, 2011
I'm still not sure why I like Araki's movies, but hey just go with it I guess.
March 27, 2011
Interesting premise, but poor execution. If anything, the first 30 minutes were ok but was terribly boring from there on.
February 24, 2011
Before Araki started making movies marketed directly at self-involved GenX-ers came The Living End. The lead performances leave much to be desired, but if they were any better the film might actually be unwatchably brutal.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2010
Araki brings great ideas to the table, but his execution leaves a lot to be desired. The two lead actors are consistently unconvincing, so their love story has no emotional resonance. Since the film relies heavily on a connection with the doomed lovers, the low performance quality hurts it badly. Nevertheless, it's very much a product of its time, and that works in its favour somehow. This is a cult classic with lots of bright possibilities, but most of them are unfulfilled.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2010
A gripping road trip with the unique angle of having two HIV positive men take to the road to come to grips with their unsure future. Very good.
September 6, 2010
this movie is twisted and I doubt it's supposed to be taken seriously!
August 6, 2010
Gregg Araki's breakthrough film about two HIV positive gay men going on a bizarre rampage feels like a nineties time capsule. THE LIVING END was made in 1992, right around when rock n' roll stopped being about living fast and having fun, and started being about teen angst and dying young, and that change is reflected here in a big, bad way. The movie opens with one of the protagonists, a drifter named Luke (Mike Dytri), spray-painting the very-nineties slogan "fuck the world" on a wall while he listens to KMFDM on a walkman. This does not bode well for someone like me who couldn't suffer through THE DOOM GENERATION. Thankfully THE LIVING END is unlike Araki's later forays into nihilistic teenage sex and violence, as there is something underneath the ugly exterior, as it seems honest and sincere in a way that bad art can sometimes be, elevating it above its face value.

In THE LIVING END, Luke finds himself in a lot of bad situations, but being a guy living with HIV, he approaches them with mild apathy. A couple of man-hating lesbians pick him up with the intent of shooting him in the face (after they belt out a long, painful list of synonyms and euphemisms for the word "penis"), a dude picks him up for a Tennis racket spanking session only to be stabbed to death by his jealous wife, and a gang of homophobes with bats tries to beat him up in a parking lot. In a contrived plot turn, he meets up with Jon (Craig Gilmore), a (pretentious) movie critic and fellow homosexual who has just "joined the club" of those living with HIV. Luke pulls Jon out to the fringes of society with him, using their disease as an excuse to let loose their inhibitions and do as they please. You're not going to find people behaving like victims here, instead they use it to rather irresponsible ends, which makes sense given that Araki has declared this an "irresponsible movie."

THE LIVING END has most of Araki's irritating artistic tics, from acts of extreme violence that are perplexing in their randomness, to corny nihilistic dialogue that seems to be stuck in a juvenile mindset. And yet there is an earnestness to THE LIVING END that is endearing. Neither Mike Dytri nor Craig Gilmore are particularly talented as actors, yet their scenes together have an intensity that is hard to capture, an intensity that is elevated by the four-by-three videotape look the cinematography has. After seeing this movie, it's easy to see why Araki has the following that he does, I don't think anyone was making films in the New Queer Cinema movement the way he did, and certainly no one treated the subjects of homosexuality and HIV with such youthful swagger and fuck-all bravado. While I don't love his work, I can't help but admire the guy. I can honestly say there isn't another director out there who makes films the way he does.
½ August 5, 2010
The "gay Thelma and Louise" this early New Queer Cinema outing was tagged as. Araki refers to it in the opening credits as an "irresponsible" movie. Two men both HIV positive take off across the country on a whirlwind romance after the murder of a policeman. The acting is on par with the stilted John Water's campy affectation, that occasionally becomes becomes heavy(buy non the less surprising) stabs at melodrama. More dramatic than the teenage apocalypse trilogy, but also much less fun and funny. The end is devastating though, and leaves us feeling and reeling(a first time in the film) that scene captures everything about Araki and "The Living End" into one moment,i combining sex, violence, irony, rage, and sorrow. That scene is better than the film itself really.

Though "historically" and "culturally" this along with Mysterious Skin (a better film) are Araki's most meaningful movies,"The Living End" is also my least favorite of his. None of the rich colors and set design that would define his later work, is present here, instead it's all sound, fury, which contrary to popular belief does sometimes signify, it's just that in 2010, it's says allot less than it did in 1992. A valiant reaction against attempts to humanize AIDS carriers into eternal victims, by allowing them to become fantastical outlaws (doomed by fate) but outside of this marginal (though valid) position, there isn't much more to enjoy.
May 17, 2010
Beautiful in it's simplicity and emotional value. You're watching real life with this one and not some huge budget Hollywood movie. It will make you feel its pain. It's real, it's honest, it's pissed off at the world, and that's something many people can relate to, whether gay or straight. This is the one which started it for Araki, and I still love it to this day.
½ May 17, 2010
even though gregg araki's 'the living end' is almost 15 years old, it seems as fresh and provacative as it did then. his guerilla film is a wonder to behold and makes up for its lack of budget with style and wit. one wonders how araki exactly pulled this whole thing off, it almost seems like a miracle. the story of two hiv lovers on the run, it is not yr typical "gay" movie. it is violent and ugly at times, but never fails to keep yr attention. features a beat pouding soundtrack of industrial music thanks to wax trax records (RIP), araki rips through the notion of what the 'new queer cinema' was supposed to be. the film is so edgy that it even makes gay people uncomfortable. outstanding film, funny at times, meaningful at others it is a low budget treat that should not be missed.
May 17, 2010
You really see Araki's potential in his first feature film. When I describe this movie to people, I normally say something along the lines of, 'Like a prototype of the Doom Generation.' It's like a slower-paced version of TDG without Rose McGowan. The Living End is where you get to see Araki's ideas and style begin to blossom in a primitive sense.

Killer soundtrack. Same old Araki-dialogue. Familiar Araki tone. Reccomended to those who understand Gregg's style.
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