Volume 92, Issue 37

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

upholding integrity


Last Night knocks out blockbusters

Gazette file photo

THERE'S ALWAYS TIME FOR RUSSIAN ROULETTE. Sandra Oh and Don McKellar get a little trigger happy in the thought-provoking film Last Night, currently playing at The New Yorker theatre.

By Malcolm Schmitt

Gazette Staff

There are six hours left until the earth gets sucked into the sun and everyone needs to figure out their priorities – how they'll spend the last night of their lives.

Last Night's scenario is much like those presented in Armageddon and Deep Impact – earth will be destroyed at a specific time by natural forces unless some unforeseeable hero or heroes save the day. The only exception in this case is the end of the world is completely inevitable, forcing people to accept the fact their precious human race will soon be eating it.

Based in Toronto, the story traces the final actions of related characters as time ticks down. They include the anxious, unsure Sandra (Sandra Oh) whose mission is to find her husband Duncan (David Cronenberg). Other characters include the ambitious Craig Zwiller (Callum Keith Rennie) who strives to fulfill every last one of his sexual fantasies and his unsure friend Patrick Wheeler (Don McKellar) who forgoes his plans to help the stranger, Sandra, in her quest to get across town.

McKellar, who also wrote and directed Last Night, paints a surrealistic picture of a city waiting for the end to come, complete with oddball characters and eccentric dialogue. Though the characters are somewhat inexplicable, sluggishly developed and difficult to identify with, they are comedically intriguing and convincingly acted.

The script is guilty of some faults at times, such as unnecessary dialogue and plot content. However, these problems don't occur frequently enough to undermine the film's strengths. An educated guess of the scene in a city like Toronto on doomsday might reveal something completely different from what McKellar envisions, but this really isn't the objective of the film – it's for the viewer to question themselves.

In essence, this story is a philosophy of how our society would behave under the condition of just two months left to live. With no motivation for society to work or progress, the film attempts to unmask basic human nature and expose people's true desires. It also explores how the human race would approach issues of civility and companionship in an environment free of constraints and pressures – where all actions today would be consequence-free tomorrow.

Last Night leaves a strong impression thanks to ambitious and creative writing. Though it can be a little slow in developing, it's a refreshing idea which doesn't force-feed the viewer. Most importantly, it provokes conversation and thoughtfulness, which is the true value of any film.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998