, ,

The other night, I was scrolling through the television guide and saw a listing for a film called Last Days Here, a description of which read: “After three decades performing, real-life heavy-metal singer Bobby Liebling is found living in his parents’ basement and using illegal drugs heavily.”

I’d seen this movie before — not Liebling’s story, per se, but stories like his, stories of musicians existing in that place called Rock Bottom and inviting voyeurs like you and me, by way of interested filmmakers, to guess how their stories end.

Once upon a time, Liebling sang in a band called Pentagram, which never amounted to much largely as a result of his inflated sense of importance and his substance-abuse problem. And so when we’re introduced to him, he’s strung out and doing absolutely nothing with his life except waiting for it to be over.

And then a guy named Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, an ardent Pentagram fan acting as Liebling’s manager and, more important, being Liebling’s friend, makes it his mission to rehabilitate the drug-addled singer by resurrecting Pentagram’s largely unheard music and attraction.

More so than Pelletier, it’s a (much younger) woman named Hallie Miller whose influence leads Liebling back to the land of the living.

Last Days Here, an award-winning documentary film by Don Argott and Demian Fenton, is the story of a few well-meaning and sincere people rescuing an artist from himself by believing in what he no longer could.

Though it has plenty of elements of cliché — Liebling, because of the damage he’s done to himself, comes across as a pitiful caricature — Last Days Here is intriguing precisely because the singer and his band are unfamiliar. We’re introduced to a drug addict who once sang in a little-known band that briefly flirted with some kind of success, not to a rock star-turned tragic figure.

Last Days Here is as much about those who rescued Liebling as it is about him. And while those involved each got something out of it — Argott and Fenton a film, Pelletier an artist and a band to champion, Miller a husband with whom she had a child — what they gave Liebling in return is worth far more. They gave him his life back and a reason to keep living it. And in turn, Liebling has since been making people happy by performing his music. And that’s worth quite a bit, too.

— David Brensilver