What would you do if at the age of 20-something, you were told you had only a few months to live, but you'd figured out a way you could get your hands on $200,000?

That's the question posed to Michael (played by Go Girls' Matt Whelan) in this new Kiwi film, based on the novel Seraphim Blues by Steven Gannaway.

Michael's reckless, self-centred behaviour in the face of terminal cancer is both admirable and frustrating. The general tone of "f*** you all, I'll do what I like" seems a justifiable position when you're told you've only got months to live.

And Michael doesn't care about apologies anyway - he's going out in a blaze of sex, drugs, and chaos, gallivanting across Europe courtesy of money fundraised by his home community to pay for his treatment.


But though most of what Michael does while in Europe (meets an enigmatic French drifter, falls in love, parties, and explores) is within the bounds of a grand OE, his complete disregard for the concerns of those back home who love him (like his father, and best friend, played by a radiant Pana Hema-Taylor) can be a tough outlook to empathise with.

Matt Whelan's performance is a force to behold - an often deadpan whirlwind of self-destruction, emptiness, elation and confusion.

Rising French star Roxane Mesquida is a beauty, but her character's motivations remain vague, which means one of the more climactic moments of the film doesn't quite punch through as powerfully as it could, and makes it tricky to empathise with her too.

This is one of the most memorable local films to emerge in a long time, with beautiful icy cold cinematography and characters of gravity and realism, but it's not one for the faint-hearted.

Stars: 4/5
Cast: Matt Whelan, Roxane Mesquida, Pana Hema-Taylor
Director: Kirstin Marcon
Running time: 97 mins
Rating: R16 (violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes)
Verdict: Local film tackles a tough subject with memorable, sometimes chilling, results.