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Last Journey of Paul W.R.

(2022) ** Unrated
87 min. Samuel Goldwyn Films. Director: Romain Quirot. Cast: Hugo Becker, Lya Oussadit-Lessert, Paul Hamy, Jean Reno.

/content/films/5228/1.jpgThese days and on these shores, Romain Quirot's debut narrative feature goes under the title The Last Journey of Paul W.R. Quirot immediately demonstrates that his skills lie in style and not substance with his near-future post-apocalyptic science fiction fable. The end of the world is nigh, and there's only one man who can possibly save it, according to conventional wisdom. That'd be Paul (Hugo Becker, unhelpfully playing it blank), an astronaut expected to launch into the "Red Moon," a mysterious astral body that's dropped by our galaxy to give Earth a big ol' planet-killing kiss. Only problem: he doesn't want to do it, and is high-tailing it in search of a forest he believes holds the actual key to humanity's survival.

To put it simply, The Last Journey has enjoyable trappings but doesn't amount to much. Quirot seems distracted by the admittedly well-crafted photography, production design, props, costumes and visual effects (achieved on a purported "low budget"), with crucial family history reduced to sub-Gattaca flashbacks that confuse more than clarify what the heck is up with Paul, his psychic-suicide-inducing brother Eliott (Paul Hamy), and their father (Jean Reno), all of whom are broken by the death of Paul's mother. The motif of lost mothers and untrustworthy pères extends with thudding obviousness to teenage Elma (Lya Oussadit-Lessert), who gloms on to Paul for a "let's save the world" road trip. Maybe next time Quirot can live up to his own narrative ambitions, but this world comes to an end not with a bang but with a whimper.

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