Last Days Here

by James McNally on March 21, 2012

in Documentaries,Film Festivals

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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