Volume 95, Issue 38

Thursday, November 8, 2001
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Salgado turns lens on world

Outside the Box

Domestic mess needs tidying up

Outside the Box

Last Night
Directed By:
Don McKellar
Starring: Sandra Oh, David Cronenberg, Sarah Polley, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Genevieve Bujold

By Molly Duignan
Gazette Staff

If you knew the world will end in six hours, what would you do?

Would you plan a quiet dinner at home, act out your most wild sexual fantasies or perhaps go completely mad? Maybe, with a mere six hours of life remaining, you might consider the meaning of your life.

In any case, these are questions Canadian filmmaker Don McKellar asks viewers to ponder in the monumental film he wrote, directed and starred in, Last Night.

Acclaimed for being a cerebral yet heartfelt look into the inner-science of humanity, Last Night is a beautiful affirmation of simple truths.

Instead of a visually-explosive fight for life in the face of death, McKellar subtly portrays meaning and impact, as opposed to drenching the film with a struggle highlighted by sensational special effects.

The film begins at 6 p.m. on the last night on earth.

Four stories emerge as distinctly different choices on how to spend the last night of existence. Paths cross, plans change, but the world will still inevitably end.

Sandra is stranded far from the home where she is supposed to meet her husband and together, they can struggle against fading out with the rest of the world.

Patrick abandons his family's nostalgic mock Christmas to be alone. One man races to act out all his sexual fantasies, while others allow lonely monotony to control them.

Toronto has become an unkept, eerie city trapped in daylight. Turned over streetcars, barren-shelved grocery stores and abandoned vehicles clutter the streets in a still world where nothing material seems to matter.

Though McKellar's world is in many ways incomprehensible – the reason for the world's end is never explained nor questioned. Last Night evokes thoughts and questions as to what you'd do in the same situation.

The diverse plights of the characters provide insight into the possible ways to deal with such an inevitable end. Some people want to kill themselves, while others want to fulfill all their dreams in life. Others still want to be part of celebrating the life that did exist, while some even deny the end is near.

While chaos is imminent, McKellar controls the events of his film so the inner-struggle of each character for meaning and acceptance is more important than the events themselves.

Last Night requires more from its audience than passive participation. McKellar shows the panic and insanity of such imminence and also the normal obligations and routines humans are naturally inclined to follow.

The film ends as the world ends. None of the fascinating questions are answered. What comes after, if anything, is never shown.

All you see is each character coming to an understanding of self before moving into the great void of nothingness.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001