film 6 of 8

Last Night

Film Review by Dean Duncan Sep 29, 2014

Very intelligent, restrained, effective. The high concept—the world will end in six hours, and the viewer never knows how or why—is clearly established and consistently maintained. It is not merely a stunt, but rather a conceit put in the service of the film’s ideas and characters, which are respectively substantial, and critically/affectionately rendered. Writer-director McKellar and his designers are to be congratulated for the Alphaville-like way that they suggest the impending apocalypse through modest, practical means. Low budget, lots of imagination and resourcefulness—completely convincing.

Here is an important issue. Without morbidity or excess, Last Night has a lot to do with sex. It’s not only frank, but many will find it to be too frank. Here is a dilemma, one that exists far beyond the bounds of this one film. Can we, in our desire to avoid inappropriateness, unduly and perhaps harmfully just avoid the entire subject? McKellar’s discussions about the place and power of sexuality are honest and intelligent, always affirmative of the emotional core of intimate relationships. This is an important subject, after all. Notice that they consider sensual excess, as well as the emptinesses and poignancies that often lead thereto. Notice that they consider that excess, and then leave it (cf. the writer-director’s story) for the sake of something deeper and better. That deeper and better is neither articulated or accomplished—the world ends in the middle of the argument and aspiration, after all. But even in its narrative absence, it is still powerfully present, if only by implication. Not much God here, in other words, but his erring, wondering children come off well. Sandra Oh! Genevieve Bujold!