Desire, my own private deserted beach, the sacred sky above, classical Hollywood melodramas, constant craving, Jeremiah 29:13, Fassbinder, the othered body, unbuttoned vestments, conditions of the spirit, longing to know the unknown.
Last Night is free of many of the assumptions about plot and genre that govern what we tend to watch in cinemas and on TV. I’ll say it’s an experimental short film of sexual and spiritual reconciliation, but I won’t define it beyond that. It’s a twist that keeps twisting, so here are a few things to keep at the back of your mind while you watch:
Recall Judith Butler writing in her seminal 1990 book Gender Trouble that there are “so many styles of the flesh.” What if your style of flesh is poisonous to the ideas of your upbringing, your parents, their past, their traditions – their church?
Consider Louise Bourgeois, who said that every day you must accept the past and then abandon it.
Think about the history of films in which people try to reconcile their queerness with their religions and spirituality (recently, Signature Move and Pariah), and the continuum of queer films that pay homage to the classical Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s (Todd Hayne’s Far From Heaven and Carol being the easiest to find).
Think of Douglas Sirk’s 1955 melodrama, All That Heaven Allows, dwelling on class and conformity and excerpted like an apparition in “Last Night,” in which two lovers face social ostracism for their chasms in age and social ranking.
Think of Eileen Myles, who wrote: “What would I like? I would like an entire upending of rules, an erasure of what’s polite… I’d like to be him, I’d like to be them, I’d frequently want to be left alone as a human…Not so much left alone as left alive.”
Think of art and film as amazingly complex, not captive to explanations by people like me, and energised by an electricity that goes beyond words.
I read Last Night as two women who seem awfully unhappy and inhibited, in search of lost time, reconciling their secret selves with their longing for one another. The filmmaker, Sarah Hadley, tells me that the bible verses quoted throughout are deeply seductive, alluring and rooted in a longing to know the unknown – which is precisely the feeling of being forgotten, forbidden and othered.
Last Night is yours now – make of it what you will, in the context of your own life.
Lauren Carroll Harris
curator and editor of Prototype
PS. Welcome to Prototype. It’s yours now, too 🙂
About Sarah Hadley
With degrees in both cinema studies (UNSW) and theatre directing (NIDA), Sarah Hadley is a stage and screen director who makes experimental theatre and moving image works.