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Jack Dodd was a London butcher who enjoyed a pint with his mates for over 50 years. When he died, he died as he lived, with a smile on his face watching a horse race on which he had bet, with borrowed money. But before he died he had a final request, 'Last Orders', that his ashes be scattered in the sea at Margate. The movie follows his mates, Ray, Lenny and Vic and his son Vince as they journey to the sea with the ashes. Along the way, the threads of their lives, their loves and their disappointments are woven together in their memories of Jack and his wife Amy Written by
Last orders is a very simple movie. It is based upon one of cinema's simplest genres: The Road Movie. It is about simple people who lead simple lives wherein very little happens very often. But behind this simplicity lies the dreams and desires and mistakes and wasted opportunities of these simple people. Small things (relatively speaking) which would seem to have little consequence on the outside world; but then, we all live in a much smaller world - don't we - and even the tiniest broken dream can sometimes leave us empty - if only for a moment.
This is a film then about people. About how people view each other. About how people can harbour the most powerful emotions or secrets - or both - without even those closest to them having the faintest idea. About the importance of friendship and the universality of loss: innocence as well as bereavement.
So four simple folk take the ashes of their old mate to be scattered into the sea at faded old, lost innocence Margate. While the deceased's wife - avoiding this trip - visits their estranged, handicapped daughter for the final time. We see how they relate (and related) to their old, dead friend and to each other. We see that great tragedy need not be about 'great' people. We see that pure love need not derive from 'pure' people. We see that life and living and loving are as difficult (and as inspirational) for the simplest of folk. And we celebrate this empathy.
Last Orders is a slow burning film with an occasionally awkward script and a potentially confusing narrative. But for all that, it is a fine, frequently moving, honest piece of cinema. The photography is consistently evocative; the acting is impeccable (Winstone impresses as the stoic son; Hemmings crackles as the bludgeoning, second rate pugilist) and several set pieces are profoundly sincere (the scene in the field is electric); but this is not a film that exists to shine incandescently - only to burn, quietly and slowly, until it says what it has to and the fuse runs out. It's worth staying with because, as simple as these people are, if they can't tell you a little something about the sadness and joy and - above all - the wonderful uncertainty of life... then you're probably already dead.
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