In English and Icelandic, with subtitles
Sigurdur Hjartarson has a preoccupation with phalluses. It started in 1974, when he was given a bull penis as a joke, popped it in formaldehyde and decided it needed companions.
“More and more penises kept coming into the house,” his wife, Jona, recalls, finally forcing her husband to put their tiny Icelandic village on the map by founding the world’s only Phallological Museum. Almost four decades after that initial gift, Hjartarson, a lifelong educator and thinker, was the happy curator of a collection (recently relocated to Reykjavik) featuring every mammal penis, bar one: that of “a proper human.”
A little slow and a whole heap surreal, “The Final Member” documents the search for that last specimen with a twinkle in its eye and warmth in its tone. Neither mocking nor judging, the directors, Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math, present a story of escalating strangeness as two candidates — an Icelandic adventurer and legendary ladies’ man in his 90s, and a self-described California exhibitionist who calls his little friend “Elmo” — compete to display their manhood for posterity.
While the Icelander frets over age-related shrinkage, and the much younger Californian plans a premature castration to beat his rival to the post, this wonderfully weird documentary pinpoints the desire to preserve fleeting glories. Like a glimpse into a dark and primitive cave, the film’s focus on the singular bond between a man and his privates will make women roll their eyes. Men, however — especially when watching Elmo endure a Stars and Stripes tattoo — might simply experience an irresistible urge to cross their legs.
(At the Alamo Drafthouse.)