The movie as a whole seems pointlessly ugly. And with a gang rape that includes more than 50 participants and a homophobic bashing that results in a crucifixion, complete with heavy-handed Christ symbolism, it also opens itself up to a charge of being a tad overblown. [11 May 1990]
Selby’s book is considered a gutbucket classic of the post-Beat era, but its hellish vision was, in part, a reaction to the stifling postwar optimism of ’50s America. Now, it seems overdone — especially when recreated with this much hyperbolic showmanship. Last Exit to Brooklyn is so relentless it’s not of this world.
Last Exit to Brooklyn is a bleak tour of urban hell, a $16 million Stateside-lensed production of Hubert Selby Jr's controversial 1964 novel. But it doesn't hold a scalpel to the lacerating torrential prose that made the book so cringingly urgent.
Edel, who supposedly fell in love with the novel as a Munich film student in the late '60s, has finally realized his adaptive dream. But for someone so devoted to the book, he (with screenwriter Desmond Nakano) ultimately betrays the novel's unrelenting brutality, its unshakably misanthropic point of view.