Danny Huston directs and stars in this sincere yet banal drama about loss and tragedy. Its narrative – which concerns Tom (Danny Huston), a bookshop owner, and his son Luke (Jonah Hauer-King), a university student – can be foreseen with little effort, as can the significance of the titular photograph. Once viewers have extrapolated this, attention spans will start to wane. A film with this premise could be a punch to the gut, but The Last Photograph’s central dynamic is too fleeting and shallow to make contact. It is a failure of script, character and imagination.
Compounding these shortcomings is the digital aesthetic, which is drab and televisual. Sensory montages interject some foreboding reverie, but the overall impression is decidedly mundane. The scant visual flair also manifests in a lack of period detail, stripping the1988 flashback sequences of their authenticity.
The performances fare better, but not memorably so. Huston does his best to bind the pathos together, displaying his character’s anguish with natural, understated skill. Yet neither Huston nor his supporting actors manage to salvage The Last Photograph from mediocrity.