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October 2010

Last Night

cast: Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Roberta Maxwell, Sarah Polley, and David Cronenberg

director: Don McKellar

92 minutes (15) 1998
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Park Circus DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
review by Ian Hunter

Last Night

It's the end of the world; or rather it will be in a six hours time. So how do you spend your last night? In Toronto, Patrick Wheeler (played by the film's writer and director, Don McKellar) starts by heading over to his parent's house where his sister (Sarah Polley) and some elderly relatives have gathered for a Christmas celebration. They have erected the tree, hung up the decorations, and even have stockings full of presents ready to pass round.

But it isn't Christmas, and this is no time to celebrate and Patrick has other plans, namely an appointment with a rooftop and a glass of wine, some favourite music playing in the background while being surrounded by reminders of his dead wife, but fate, as fate does, gets in the way, as Sandra (played by Sandra Oh) is trying to get across town to meet her husband Duncan (played by director, David Cronenberg) to carry out their agreed suicide pact.

She makes the mistake of stopping at an abandoned, and practically completely looted, supermarket for some food and wine, while outside her car is being trashed. Thus begins her quest to get home on buses occupied by people too traumatised to move, waiting on drivers who are long gone. Exhausted, she rests at the entrance to Patrick's apartment block, and reluctantly he agrees to help her get home, trying unsuccessfully to hotwire a car, or hitch a ride from various dodgy drivers.

Finally he manages to persuade his best friend Craig (played by Callum Keith Rennie) to lend her one of his classic cars. Craig isn't too happy about this as he has been indulging in a marathon sex session with various women who turn up at his door. Women that he has found through the Internet...

Meanwhile, Sandra's husband, Duncan, is going alphabetically through a list of his customers and calling them up to assure them they will have their gas supply right up to the very end. He is so devoted to that task and then getting home to be with Sandra that he is oblivious to the obvious huge crush his secretary has on him.

Duncan struggles to get through the streets to his house through the packed and riotous streets. His cell phone is useless. All he can do is get home and prepare for the end he and Sandra planned, until he incurs the wrath of a young man with a gun who breaks into his house. Duncan tells him he is not afraid of him, or what he can do, but we are already afraid for him, and it is not until the end of the film that we learn his fate.

Last Night is a low-key, low budget affair, concentrating on the stories of the individuals who are alone and apart but eventually their lives intertwine. We get the occasional glimpse of a society falling apart as people riot and loot and indulge in mindless violence while others gather to party on, party hard.

Occasionally, McKellar draws back from the action with a telling wide shot or long shot and some effective music to remind us that this is it, game over, with just enough time as the hours count down until midnight to remember the past, kill yourself, or maybe even fall in love.



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