Set in New York City, the film focuses on the relationship between two people as they await the end of all life on Earth. Scientists and theologians alike have predicted that by the next morning at 4:44 a.m. Eastern Standard Time deadly solar and cosmic radiation will destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer, and along with it, all life on the planet. Mixed in throughout the film are news clips of various reporters, commentators and celebrities who contemplate what the end of the world will be like.
Cisco and Skye confine themselves to a loft in the city. Cisco is a successful middle-aged actor who just wants to spend his last hours with the woman he cares about, Skye. Skye is a young artist whose latest project, a large painting on the floor, serves as an outlet for her emotions.
Cisco and Skye notice how strangely calm the city is, aside from isolated reports of looting, protests and suicides. They occasionally break away from viewing the news to have sex, and, afterwards, Skye continues to work on her painting, always changing her clothes for each new layer of paint she adds.
They order Vietnamese food and give all of their money to the delivery boy. They allow him to use their laptop computer to talk with his parents in Vietnam. After the delivery boy leaves, Cisco and Skye each use the computer to talk with their families: Cisco talks with his ex-wife and his estranged teenage daughter, and Skye talks with her mother.
When the pair have an argument over their insecurities, Cisco walks out and goes to the apartment of two old friends, Noah and Tina, who are taking drugs in the company of a local drug dealer. After a long talk about life and being with the people they love, Cisco leaves to rejoin Skye at the loft, where they wait until 4:44 a.m. They die in each other's embrace, as Skye is reciting marriage vows.Willem Dafoe as Cisco
Shanyn Leigh as Skye
Natasha Lyonne as Tina
Paul Hipp as Noah
Anita Pallenberg as Diana
Paz de la Huerta as girl on street
Pat Kiernan as news anchor
Ferrara began shooting the film in April 2011 with his longtime cinematographer Ken Kelsch. 4:44 is Willem Dafoe's third collaboration with Ferrara after 1998's New Rose Hotel and his last feature film, 2007's Go Go Tales. During Montclair State University's film forum event in February 2011, Ferrara revealed that Ethan Hawke was slated to star originally. The film was shot in one location, an apartment, set during the course of the last 24 hours before the scripted end of life on Earth due to the ozone layer. This demise was so-attributed in the film without explanation, except for vague references to "Al Gore was right" and stock film footage featuring the former vice president as he claims that Greenland's and West Antarctica's ice cap melt-off would raise the ocean's levels between "four and 12 meters."
The film showed in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival in September 2011. It had a limited theatrical release on March 25, 2012.
The film garnered a generally poor reaction from critics. Rotten Tomatoes ranks the film as "Rotten" with only 48% of critics giving it positive reviews and review aggregator Metacritic gave it a 54/100.