FOUR LAST SONGS is one of those little films that quietly turns a little comedy about seemingly incongruous situations into a finely spun series of love stories: father and daughter, man and woman, disparate brothers, lonely widows, and a village that loves its heritage. Writer/Director Francesca Joseph understands her craft and blends a well-paced story with a fine cast. The result is a heartwarming evening of entertainment.
On a small Mediterranean island (Mallorca/Balearic Islands) lives an odd group of expatriates. Larry (Stanley Tucci) is pianist from classical training who makes his living playing piano bar while he pines for the purity of classical music such as that of a deceased composer who lived on the island once wrote. His long term girlfriend Miranda (Jessica Stevenson) practices yoga and supports Larry's dreams. Sebastian (Hugh Bonneville) is a well to do, would be impresario who lives with his perpetually drunk and miscreant brother Dickie (Rhys Ifans). Larry develops a plan to have a concert of the deceased composer's music there on the island but has to contend with the composer's widow Veronica (Marisa Paredes) as well as the composer's beautiful 'muse' Helena (Emmanuelle Seigner): the two women are bitter enemies. Larry obtains Veronica's permission to stage the concert of her husband's music, has the composer's grand piano brought in by helicopter, and hires the infamous pianist Narcisco Ortega (Virgile Bramly) to perform. And while Sebastian vies for the rights to have the concert take place, the obstacles encountered are beyond his intrusion. All goes well until the surprise arrival of Larry's 'unknown daughter' from an old weekend affair arrives: Frankie (Jena Malone) has been tracking down her birth father for apparent and occult reasons. Narcisco arrives with entourage, seduces Frankie, and in an act of fatherly protection Larry injures the pianist's hands and the whole project falls apart. In a final ploy to make the concert work Helena gives Larry the composer's final songs - dedicated with love to his wife Veronica - and Larry agrees to perform the music in the small concert of his dreams, and the concert serves as a moment of healing between each of the paired and unpaired characters.
Not only are the characters well played by this very fine cast, but also the scenery of the island is exotic and romantic as captured by cinematographer Javier Salmones. The original music score by Dan Jones includes a truly lovely 'last song' and is enhanced by the fact that excerpts from Richard Strauss' "Four Last Songs" as sung by Sylvia Sass are an integral part of the soundtrack. This is a tender little story with equal amounts of sensitive humor and warmth, a film that deserves a much wider audience. Grady Harp, July 07