Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Night: A more subtle end-of-the-world movie

Last Night is a 1998 film about the apocalypse. But it's not a Dawn of the Dead, I Am Legend, Mad Max sort of explosive movie about the end of days--it's Canadian.
"What are you implying?" you may implore. "That Canadians are boring?"
Not at all. I'm implying there's depth and nuance in this film you can't find in most American armageddon cinema. It's about how people come to terms with the end of time.
The premise is "the world is ending in two months," and this movie chronicles the final six hours, as experienced by a handful of people throughout Toronto whose lives become intertwined over the course of the film.

I discovered Last Night a few years ago while reading analysis of 28 Days Later, one of my favorite films of all time. If you liked that movie, this Canadian cacophony is right down your alley... albeit with 100% fewer zombies.
Since all the characters have known about their impending doom for some time, they're done panicking and screaming. They've had to decide where to spend their last night.
A family recreates their fondest memories with a faux-Christmas. The owner of a gas company calls every one of his customers and thanks them for their business. A man spends the night looking to fulfill every sexual fantasy he's ever had. Some people just decide to party to the end. Watching Last Night you can't help but ask yourself, "Where would I spend my last night on Earth?"

The film is full of humor set on an incredibly depressing backdrop. Main character Patrick is played by a stellar Don McKellar, who also wrote and directed the film. He wants nothing more than to spend his final hours alone with music and wine. Instead, he gets stuck spending the night helping a stranger look for her husband. The stranger is played by Sandra Oh, in one of her breakthrough roles before she became a star in the United States with Grey's Anatomy and Sideways.

How the world is going to end is never explained; all we know is that as it gets closer to midnight, it gets brighter and brighter outside, perhaps hinting at a "sun exploding" situation. But the reason for it all isn't important--the focus of Last Night is on the people at the end of the world, not the world at the end of the world. Spending valuable exposition time explaining the reason for the apocalypse would take away from the true meaning of the film--what it really means to be human.


  1. oh yeah, i remember you telling me about this one. it was in the same conversation where we were talking about gus van sant, although i don't remember how they were related.

    sooooo I'm sure you're begging to be asked...what would YOU spend the last night doing?

    and as a side note, Juno was Canadian. just throwing that in there.

  2. This sounds like my kind of movie. Plus, it always makes me happy to hear about other people who really love 28 Days Later, which is glorious. I'm going to have to see Last Night.

    I meant to comment on your mission statement. This sounds like it's going to be a very interesting blog.

  3. Lauren: If I knew I had two months until the world ended like they do in the movie, I think I'd try to do everything on my bucket list in that time, and spend the last night watching the end of the world from the roof of a building.

    Chest: Netflix (a key part of my movie-viewing life) doesn't carry Last Night, but I was able to find it on Amazon for pretty cheap. If you buy the DVD and don't like it, I'll mail you the $14.

  4. i'd like to see this movie, just because i think the notion of "the world is going to end in two months" is pretty ridiculous. i'd like to see how they pull that off. by the time the last night comes around, i feel like everyone would have killed each other off anyway.