Last Life in the Universe

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


The wondrously unconventional love story, Last Life in the Universe, brings together an astoundingly talented group of filmmakers and actors from all over the globe who create a thoughtful contemplation on life, death, and the search for love that fills the void between them.

Kenji, a Japanese man living in Bangkok, is obsessed by life's details as he attempts to find meaning through order. He feels his own life is systematic and empty and has attempted suicide many times, on each occasion preparing for his departure down to the smallest aesthetic details. Then one day, while he is poised to leap off a bridge, a girl dies in front of him while her sister Noi also watches. Stunned by the event, Kenji and Noi escape to her ramshackle country home, where they are slowly drawn to each other as their pasts descend upon them with a vengeance.

Pen-ek Ratanaruang's inventive direction and Christopher Doyle's astonishing cinematography caress our imagination and create a world just shy of surreal. Flashes of humor and violence break up the story's dreamlike fluidity as we get to know two people who have virtually nothing in common yet need each other to survive. Assured performances, as well as a clever cameo by cult director Miike Takashi as a tenacious yakuza hit man, combine to make an amusing and exquisite picture of people seemingly at the end of their ropes who find an unexpected foothold to carry on.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]