The Last Laugh ★★★

A solid, mildly provocative documentary on "the last frontier" in humour: Holocaust jokes. Personally, I think there's an argument to be made that there are increased sensitivities now that reshape what frontiers there are, and a different documentary might explore that, but this is not a film with its nose to the ground in recent comedic developments, as its cutting-edge comics are Larry Charles, Sarah Silverman and Louis CK, as opposed to Anthony Jeselnik.

Nonetheless, within its conceptual limits, it does quite a good job of creating space around the discussion, particularly by introducing Holocaust survivors into the mix in ways that are sensitive but not molly-coddling. I particularly enjoyed its point-counterpoint on LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, a film comedians detest and argue is offensive, yet one that survivors defend. (There's even a brief detour, of course, into THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED.) It's perhaps less than the sum of its parts, more stopping when it reaches feature length than reaching a conclusion, and yet the modesty is also part of its strength: preachiness is pushed to the margins, with the filmmaker's personal viewpoints kept at a distance. As a friend of mine said after FORREST GUMP: "you laughed, you cried, what else do you want from a movie?"

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