Pros: Ensemble cast, Story, Direction, Score
Cons: I wish there were more movies of this quality
Last Orders (2001)
Ending is easy. Its the carrying on thats hard. Jack Dodds
A road trip takes a group of people through time as well as distance as four men take their friends ashes to his final destination.
An ensemble cast of British actors including Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, David Hemmings, Ray Winstone, and Tom Courtenay - as well as younger versions of the same - play out a tender drama of life and love that spans a half century.
But Last Orders is not maudlin; despite the mournful topic, Director Fred Schepisi coaxes just the right performances out of his talented cast to bring out the moments that are poignant without crossing over to sappy.
Four men meet in the Coach and Horses pub, in London. One of the men is a funeral director and has an urn with the ashes of the deceased while another man is the son of the deceased. All are long-time friends and have agreed to go on one last jaunt with Jack Dodds, as they take his ashes to be buried in the sea at Margate. But first, as they have done for many long years, a drink -
Schepisi uses flashbacks to show the mens interactions with the deceased - Michael Caine - over the last half century; how they met, their courting, rituals, and drinking parties, of course, and their various triumphs and more often disappointments that made them who they are.
Sometimes the flashbacks use younger actors and sometimes the principals are made up to look younger, but each scene change does not detract from the viewing experience as the story keeps you absorbed, much more so than I can describe in a film that emphasizes character development over action.
Along with the mens trip, Caines wife Helen Mirren takes a parallel journey to visit her mentally handicapped daughter; a trip she has taken every Thursday for fifty years. The guilt and suffering she feels is written all over the features of Mirrens expressive face. And when the mens journey is finally completed, so is the womans, giving a beautiful closure to the story.
I really dont want to give you a lot of detail on this story because I want you to be surprised, as I was, at how nicely this movie is put together. Paul Grabowsky adds a beautiful evocative score to put the frosting on the cake.
The Columbia TriStar DVD is presented in color, in 2.35:1 theatrical aspect, and runs 109 minutes. There is a full length directors commentary by Fred Schepisi included as an extra feature.
Last Orders is exactly the kind of movie that Hollywood almost never makes and one of the reasons that there is so little art in their movies. Rather than watch the latest blockbuster, why dont you try this little gem for a change. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
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