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Last Night (DVD)

The end of the world as we know it

Disc Specs

Starring Don McKellarSandra OhCallum Keith RennieSarah Polley Disc Cover
Directed By Don McKellar Certificate 15
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Visuals 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Running Time 95 mins
UK Release Date September 20, 2010
Genre Drama
Our Rating
User Rating

The world will end at midnight. As premises go, Last Night’s opening gambit is decidedly bleak. We’re introduced to this futureless world several months after its denizens have learnt of their fate. Many have already bowed out on their own terms, others now prepare for their final few hours. Some spend their last moments alone, others with loved ones whilst the rest bow out in style; descending upon heaving gatherings that’d put the most spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations to shame.

Last Night focuses on only a handful of these futureless sorts. Writer/Director Don McKellar takes centre stage amongst an impressive ensemble as Patrick, a cynical widower still haunted by the death of his wife. His plans for a solitary farewell are soon dashed by a chance meeting with Sandra (Oh), a desperate woman trying to traverse the heaving Toronto streets to fulfil a suicide pact with her beloved husband. And then there’s Craig (Rennie), an oversexed childhood pal of Patrick who’s counting down to oblivion with an endless stream of sweaty liaisons, ticking his way through every last sexual fantasy he’s ever had.

And there’s plenty more fascinating personalities in this interconnecting ensemble. In one sequence, we’re introduced to Patrick’s eccentric family after the widower is forced to endure a re-enactment of Christmases past courtesy of his mother. It’s an excruciatingly hilarious scene, as his highly strung ma unveils a gut-busting dinner and reveals heaving stockings filled with rewrapped childhood mementos. David Cronenberg also turns in an impressive performance as Oh’s onscreen husband; the owner of a local power firm spending his last day dialling through his customer list, thanking them for their patronage and assuring them the lights will stay on ‘til the very end.

It’s this well judged dash of humour that makes Last Night such a compelling watch. Things are as grim as they’ll ever get, but there’s ample time to laugh. Likewise, the characters are largely reconciled with their fate and rather than sob for their situation, they live out their last few hours with gusto. The central story of Patrick and Sandra is the film’s crowning achievement, introducing two potentially perfect lovers to one another all too late in the game. But rather than fall head over heels in love at first sight, they’re dalliance is an incredibly awkward and staggered affair, riddled with cringe inducing moments and peppered with laugh out loud faux pas.

McKellar’s work with the pen and behind the lens also deserves special mention. The script successfully pairs powerful drama with pitch black humour and the diverse, interconnecting ensemble are all distinct and well rounded. And despite a modest budget, the visuals will also impress with an economical, but believable snapshot of a world on the brink of oblivion. McKellar avoids overkill and instead peppers these powerful images carefully throughout the film. Just as the entertaining character interactions distract us from impending Armageddon, an ominous shot of a much too big sun floods the screen as a searing reality check.

Overall Verdict: McKellar hits all the right notes with this antithesis of the end of the world scenario. Forgoing the usual route of spectacle and star names, we’re dealt an engrossing human angle that folds potent drama and pitch black humour into one enjoyable package.

Special Features:
Stills Gallery

Reviewer: David Steele

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