Independent film directed by Stephen Kay in 1997. Kay's other credits include writing the 1999 remake of the Mod Squad and directing the more recent made-for-TV movie The Craigslist Killer. He's a competent director who seems to have had trouble landing consistent work for the big screen.

The Last Time I committed Suicide is truly a labor of love. Kay is a huge devotee of all things Beat (which I heard through the grapevine on a now defunct listserv shortly after the film's release) and he approaches the characters with the respect which they warrant as literary and historical figures. The story is based largely upon a letter which Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac in 1950 detailing the suicide attempt of the former's first wife Joan.

Due to disagreement with the Kerouac estate (which is managed by the descendants of his third wife, Stella Sampas) Kay was unable to obtain the right to the likeness of Jack Kerouac. So the character who plays Kerouac in the story is named Harry. Somewhat more troubling is the fact that this Kerouac surrogate is played by Keanu Reeves. Neal (named Neal, thankfully) is played by Thomas Jane. You may remember him as the character Zeph from the original film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or perhaps as the lead role in the more recent HBO series Hung.

Thomas Jane embodies the eternally youthful spirit of Neal Cassady rather well. His mannerisms, tone and swagger match the descriptions by Kerouac in On The Road and Visions of Cody. For his part, Keanu Reeves does a good job as an observer of greatness but rare is the performance where that man manages not to sound like Bill and Ted throughout.

Despite not killing herself, Joan does not win the heart of Neal for long as other women and countless kicks loom further ahead.

The film is okay (probably not worth watching if you are not curious about the Beat Generation) but the soundtrack is way better. The music serves as a great introduction to jazz from the 1940s on. The tracks listed below appear in the film (but differ slightly from the CD) and I encourage you to seek them out to experience great jazz. While there's not a bad one there, my personal favorite is the piano piece by Jacky Terrasson. If you like Monk, he will blow your mind.

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