Plugged as the first Lebanese vampire movie, "The Last Man" is a curiosity item in the genre and, in more ways than one, a bloodless art film. Though it sucks a lot of weird atmosphere out of Beirut, the idea of linking the vampire myth to the city's depressing socio-political climate is more intriguing than film itself.

Plugged as the first Lebanese vampire movie, “The Last Man” is a curiosity item in the genre and, in more ways than one, a bloodless art film. Though it sucks a lot of weird atmosphere out of Beirut (where director Ghassan Salhab shot his well-traveled second feature “Phantom Beirut”), the idea of linking the vampire myth to the city’s depressing sociopolitical climate is more intriguing than film itself. Tipping its hat to the mysterious imagery of Murnau’s “Nosferatu,” pic has seduced numerous fests, which is about as far as it’s likely to travel.

Tall, solitary Dr. Khalil (a superbly icy Carlos Chahine as a balding, middle-class Max Schreck) works in a hospital where victims begin turning up with human bite wounds in their necks. He immediately seems to be the perpetrator, given that he bites patients on the throat and has no reflection in mirrors. But maybe not. Salhab is clearly enchanted with the idea of a man who is neither alive nor dead, and perhaps the vague story sets off more bells for local auds. For others, it’s a mood-piece built around dreamlike images and unexpected editing combinations.

The Last Man

France-Lebanon

Production

An Agat Films/Djinn House Prods. co-production in association with Arte France. (International sales: Agat Films, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Blanc. Executive producers, Marie Balducchi, Houaida Azar, Dzovig Torikan. Directed, written by Ghassan Salhab.

Crew

Camera (color), Jacques Bouquin; editor, Michele Tyan; music, Cynthia Zaven; production designer, Helen Boyce; costume designer, Ihsan Kawas; sound, Patrick Alex. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (competing), Dec. 12, 2006. (Also in Locarno, Turin Young Cinema festivals.) Original title: Atlal. Arabic dialogue. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Carlos Chahine, Aouni Kawas, Yalda Younes, Fayek Hmaisse, May Sahab, and Zeina Layoun.
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