Last Days Here

Last Days Here
Last Days Here screens as part of the Canadian Music Week Film Festival on Thursday March 22, 2012 at 9:15pm at TIFF Bell Lighbox. Buy tickets here.

Last Days Here (Directors: Don Argott and Demian Fenton): As soon as I’d finished watching, I had to go back and watch the first few minutes of Last Days Here again. You see, the subject of the film, heavy metal singer Bobby Liebling, begins the film looking at least a decade older than his 53 years. Decades of drug abuse have left him covered in sores, suffering from delusions and living in his elderly parents’ basement. He speaks as someone who is very near death, and whether that death will be accidental or intentional is up for grabs. In an early heartbreaking scene, he tells the filmmakers he’ll stick around as long as they want him to.

Liebling founded the band Pentagram as a teenager in the late 1960s. Through a combination of bad decisions, bad luck, and in the case of Liebling, simply bad behaviour, the band was never able to reach the levels of commercial success that many of their contemporaries achieved. Despite that, Pentagram maintained a small but devoted following even as all of the original members, fed up with Liebling’s drug problems, gradually drifted away.

One of these fans, Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, makes it his personal mission to help Bobby get clean, get out of his parents’ basement, and take his music to the next level. At great personal cost, Pelletier tries to get Liebling motivated to record some new material and perform live again. He even gets some interest from some of heavy metal’s heavy hitters.

The filmmakers followed Liebling over a period of three years, an incredibly eventful period during which he kicks his drug habit, relapses, kicks it again, falls in love, has his heart broken, goes to jail, and finally reaches for the adult life that has eluded him for decades. It’s a wonderfully sweet and redemptive tale that, based on the first few minutes, could have ended so much differently.

Ultimately, Last Days Here reinforces my belief that, contrary to appearances, heavy metal fans and musicians are often among the most tender-hearted human beings alive. It’s sweetly ironic that a man whose image as a tough guy singing about dark subjects is ultimately saved by the simple love of his friends and family. By the end of the film, Liebling seems both ten years younger and about thirty years wiser.

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