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While Hollywood was churning out films about aliens and natural disasters threatening life on earth which always ended with an American hero saving the world, this more thoughtful Canadian film was considering "What would you do with yourself if you knew the world was ending and there was no way to stop it?" It follows the final hours of different people and how they choose to spend it, in all the diverse ways people might behave in the face of the end.
Last night is the lower budget, yet a little more real feeling version of "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." which also wasn't bad. If you liked that, you should really like this. It's low-key, and almost under-sells it, but not quite. Good movie.
Canadian actor/writer Don McKellar stars in his feature film directorial debut. The world is ending in 6 hours. McKellar is determined to spend his last night alone, but he encounters Sandra Oh who is trying to get home to her husband, but can't. His sister, Sarah Polley, is spending her last night celebrating in the streets with her boyfriend. His friend, Callum Keith Rennie, is trying to have as many final sexual experiences as he can, including one with his former teacher, Genvieve Bujold. A gas company employee, David Cronenberg, is calling all their customers to let them know that service will continue until the end. The film quite wisely gives no information as to why the Earth is ending ... it just is, right at the stroke of midnight. There are indications of what kind of cause it must be (daylight continues for 24 hours), but no details are provided, so there's really no question of trying to save people. The film just deals with people facing the end ... some do it in style (Bujold spends her last moments at a concert), some do not (there is a lot of violence and chaos on the streets). It's a quiet and thoughtful film.
Sometimes a movie doesn't necessarily have to tell you everything what it's about, simply just how it can go about the details and characters in its story. Case in point, Don McKellar's Canadian knocking-on-Apocalypse's-door flick, Last Night. Throughout the film, I was wondering if there would come a point where the revelation as to why or how the End of the World was coming around. There isn't any, or at least something that has a clear definition. But there are eerie signs of something just 'off', and it comes with the mere presence of the sun: at first I wasn't thrown off by the sun being out at 6 PM, even 7 PM (the time-span for Last Night is 6 hours, 6 PM to 12 AM on the dot)... but the sun doesn't set, it just stays there and doesn't go away. Now that's scary - and certainly convenient for a budgetary perspective.
This is a low-budget movie that takes the apocalypse as something serious, but not in every single moment. In fact McKellar's approach is to make this at times almost 'quirky', eccentric, and even awkward comedy. At one point Patrick, character McKellar himself plays, is having a big dinner with his family and some old family friends. The mother starts to cry at the table, but no one really goes to console her or to say anything, they just keep on eating the turkey and lamb she's prepared - this is the kind of scene I might expect on the TV show Louie, where misery turns out to be uproarious comedy all based on the timing and the personality of the characters in this dreadful situation (in other words it IS a serious moment, but funny because of the reactions and how people feel about one another in that moment). And there's a whole sub-plot with a character who has been, over two months, going through sexual conquests like a check-list... and he finally approaches his friend Patrick about being a, uh, part of that.
The main thrust of the story is how Patrick and Sandra (played by Sandra Oh, no name change apparently) go about their last 6 hours, with some assorted characters drifting in and out like Sarah Polley as one of Patrick's disaffected teenage siblings, and David Cronenberg as a bureaucrat going about his last business in a giant office to call people in this city to tell them about the gas staying on until 12 PM, with pretty much every call being a voicemail. But it's less about the story of it than just following these people and finding how they deal with this despair, or not deal with it, and while some go out in the streets and loot and kill and pillage (the film opens with Sandra's car being flipped over as she goes into an empty store to get some items for no good reason at all except it's apocalypse time, better flip some cars and stuff).
There is some dramatic power here too, though in small doses and in large part coming from Sandra Oh's performance (I'd forgotten how good she can be, such as in Sideways or on the HBO show Arliss, where she was good enough for me to remember decades on). She carries a lot of weight just by the nature of her circumstance: she has to find her husband so they can carry out their simple plan together at the stroke of midnight - not being able to find a car makes things further complicated, and Patrick makes interesting by how he reacts to her plight. He's not someone who is a super-take-charge kind of guy, but he's not about to sit in the corner with his family and give up either; he's the sort to approach everyone with some decency, even in the midst of befuddlement (i.e. being approached for sex by a male friend, in a sort of 'well, it's on my list and all' sort of rationale).
At times I wasn't sure if McKellar was great for the part he wrote for himself, but at other times I don't know if anyone else could play off the awkward tension and sense of sympathy (and empathy) he carries across. He gets good work out of everyone here, most notably Cronenberg - always an underrated actor - as the man who always followed the clock and still is following it until his end (my favorite scene in the film is when he is met with a young man with a gun in his hand, who isn't sure if he can shoot him, though he may just do that, one of those moments that FEELS so real and raw).
This is not to say every moment in the film entirely works, or that every attempt to be funny in its soft-cringe like manner is effective, and it actually takes a few minutes early on to gather some momentum. But there's a rhythm to it that is unique and there's a constant sense of 'let's try something you may not have seen before with a 'This is The End' story, down to its ambiguity around why things are ending (or for how long), and some of it comes down to it being so darn... Canadian. You may never see another apocalyptic movie with so many polite people!
how would people choose to spend their last few hours on the planet? a simple premise guaranteed to "what-if" hook you. epic through its attention to human scale and with a beautiful, surprising soundtrack.
Last Night is really about our control (or lack thereof) of the world around us. The literal end of the world is McKellar's impetus for everyone to realize how helpless they truly are. Visually the film is incredible and the performances are great, focused internally rather then on external bombast typical of the world-ending-in-disaster genre. It is poignant and darkly humorous, sometimes simultaneously. The human focus is also the film's weak point as well with a fairly narrow, nihilistic focus that, while exhibiting in different ways, is also laid fairly heavily across all the characters. Thought provoking nonetheless and worth more than one viewing
A very sharp witty script & fine character performances reveals a small gem of a film!
A midly amusing character piece from Canada set in the last 6 hours before the apocalypse. A little unambitious but still nicely put together.
wow.....stunning.....brilliant......i have just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a great movie 2 watch.......its got a good cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie......i think that don mckellar, sandra oh, callum keith rennie, sarah polley, tracy wright (.R.I.P.), david cronenberg, play good roles/parts thorughout this movie......i think that the director of this comedy/drama movie had done a great job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie.......its got a good soundtrack throughout this movie......i think that the special effects throughout this movie were really good throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.....i think that this is such a really sad movie 2 watch.......its got a good cast thorughout this movie......i think that this is such a cult classics 1998 movie 2 watch......the ending of this movie is really sad but this is a great movie 2 watch.......i think that don mckellar (patrick throughout this movie) was so brilliant throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really sad movie 2 watch its got a good cast throughout this movie.....i think that david cronenberg was great throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really sad movie 2 watch.....its got a good cast throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch it is such a really sad movie 2 watch.....i think that this is a brilliant movie 2 watch......its got a good soundtrack throughout this movie......i think that the cameos from Jackie Burroughs (.R.I.P.), Arsinée Khanjian, were good cameos throughout this movie......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch its got a great cast throughout this movie......i think that this is such a really sad movie 2 watch but its such a brilliant movie 2 watch its got a good cast throughout this movie.....i think that this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch its got a good cast thorughout this movie.....i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch with a great cast throughout this movie,.....
script & fine acting made for compelling viewing!