Last Night

In 1998, the French group Collection 2000 commissioned six filmmakers from around the world to each make a movie. The only rule is that the movie must take place on December 31, 1999. Tsai Ming-Liang from Taiwan made The Hole and Hal Hartley (Henry Fool, Flirt) from the United States recently made Book of Life. Now, from Canada, first time director Don McKellar gives us Last Night. McKellar is no stranger to film. He is the writer of Thirty-Two Short Stories About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin (as well as this movie), and appeared in the latter and eXistenZ. It's also interesting to note that Canadian filmmakers seem to be a tight group. They are constantly appearing in each other's movies. Last Night has Sandra Oh, David Cronenberg, Sarah Polley, and Callum Keith Rennie, among others. And I'm sure that actor Ian Holm and director Atom Egoyan are part of this somehow. They have to be.

In Last Night, the world is going to end at midnight. The film follows various people through the last five hours of the world as we know it. An elderly woman runs through the streets announcing the remaining time. Duncan (Cronenberg, director of Crash and eXistenZ) works for the gas company. He spends the last hours calling every one of his customers and assuring them that gas service will continue as long as possible. Jennifer Wheeler (Polley, Guinevere, eXistenZ) is going to a large party. Her brother Patrick (McKellar) is somewhat of a loner. He is going to spend the end alone in his apartment, much to the dismay of his family. His friend Craig (Rennie, eXistenZ, Double Happiness) is trying to have sex with as many women as possible. Patrick meets Sandra (Oh, Guinevere, Double Happiness), a woman trying to get across town to her husband. They are planning to kill each other at the stroke of midnight. Sandra's car is stolen, so Patrick, who has nothing else to do, agrees to help her try to get back to her husband. Patrick and Sandra are the focus of the movie; their relationship grows closer as the end grows nearer.

There is an eerie calm throughout the entire movie. Except for a few roving gangs, the streets are nearly empty. The sun is high in the sky although the story takes us closer and closer to midnight. News that the world is ending is not new (no attempt is made to explain how everyone knows), and a sense of finality permeates the movie. McKellar's vision and style of the endtimes are vastly different from the mayhem and hysteria that are prevalent in American movies (Deep Impact, Armageddon among others). While about the end of the world, Last Night shows us what the effects of this on everyday people. There is nothing anyone can do to stop it, so things turn inward. Some people surround themselves with what they feel is important. Others try to discover who they truly are and what life truly means for them. Well acted all around, Last Night, a very thoughtful movie, forces us to ask ourselves, if we knew exactly when the world was ending, what would we be going at the end?

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 9 minutes, Rated R for sexuality, language, and brief violence.

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