Just released on DVD for domestic audiences following its brief cinematic run at the Sydney Film Festival in 2011, Last Days Here is the story of heavy rock pioneer Bobby Liebling of Pentagram and his battle to overcome addiction and find ultimate meaning in his life.
Don Argott and Demian Fenton spent close to six years following Liebling’s trainwreck of a life as he constantly goes off the rails only to be recovered time and again by his long-suffering manager Sean Pelletier, whose patience is matched only by that of the film makers who must have believed on more than one occasion that their subject was doomed.
When we first meet Liebling, he is an emaciated, toothless, grey-haired, gaunt, mid-50s crack-head living in the basement of his parents’ home – parents who look younger than he does. For the first half an hour, Argott and Fenton focus on Liebling as a pathetic shambles, constantly rifling through drawers full of broken things, a man who lived his whole life for music and drugs and has nothing to show for it; his manager Pelletier, driven by a deep-seated passion for the man’s music, struggles to bring back some sort of pulse to his career. Then a 20-something female fan develops an improbable romantic interest in Liebling, leading to an astonishing turn-around in his demeanour: he stops taking drugs, dyes his hair and moves out of the basement he’s barely left for two decades to shack up with her. At the same time, Pelletier ties up a meeting with Phil Anselmo, who wants to offer Leibling a record contract, and everything looks rosy. Inevitably though, for a man whose life has been nothing but missed opportunities, everything has fallen apart within weeks. The story is filled out by interviews with former bandmates Geof O’Keefe, Victor Griffin and Joe Hasselvander who do naught but confirm what a problematic, erratic loser Leibling is most of the time and the conversations with his parents are heart-rending. There is a fairy tale in store for the lovelorn, self-styled, self-absorbed free-spirit in the end, but for most of the film Argott and Fenton leave us wondering not only what’s to become of him but asking why we should care. And yet we do.
In the end, the real theme of Last Days Here is neither Pentagram nor Bobby Leibling. This could have been made about any drug-addled derelict and had the same impact. There’s a happy ending and humourous moments, but the overall tone is one of sadness. It’s a rivetting and moving film about love and one man’s inability to find it, recognise it or deal with it when it arrives.