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In London, in a pub, the friends Vic Tucker (Tom Courtney), owner of a
funerary agency, the former boxer Lenny (David Hemmings) and the gambler
Ray Johnson (Bob Hoskins) gathers with Vince Dodds (Ray Winstone), the owner
of a `showroom', to accomplish the last wish of his father and local
butcher Jack Dodds (Michael Caine): to throw his ashes in the sea, in
Margate. His wife Amy (Helen Mirren) delivered a note to Ray, where Jack
expressed his last desire. Along their journey in a Mercedes Benz, the story
of their lives is disclosed through flashbacks or thoughts, where deep
secrets are revealed to the viewers along 109 minutes of this excellent
film. The cast of this movie is outstanding and their performances are
fantastic. There are many subplots and in the end, all the characters are
very well developed though their personal dramas, recollections and dialogs.
A touching movie about friendship, revelations and farewell, and highly
recommended for sensitive persons. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `O Último Adeus' (`The Last Goodbye')
Graham Swift's brilliant novel serves as the basis of this film,
adapted and directed by Fred Schipisi, who gathered some of the best
English talent to give life to the characters of the novel in a
satisfying film that will not disappoint.
We are taken to a local pub where three old friends have gone to have a drink before embarking on a trip to Margate. When Vic arrives with a box, it's made clear the ashes of another friend is what has prompted the reunion. In flashbacks, we are taken to see Jack's life from the days of WWII and the way the four friends have met and how their lives have been intertwined.
There is also Amy, Jack's widow, who is taking a trip on her own to visit a daughter who has been committed to an institution because she is mentally challenged. Amy is also a key figure in the story because of the love Jack felt for her.
Vince, Jack's son, is driving a late model car to Margate and takes Vic, Ray and Lenny with him. the purpose is to scatter the ashes in the place which Jack wanted to live with Amy, but never got around to it. Vince, is the key figure in the story, which is made clear when he makes a detour to a place that is the pivotal part of this tale.
Michael Caine is Jack, the dead man, who is seen in flashbacks. Bob Hoskins plays Ray. David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay are seen as Lenny and Vic. Helen Merrin is magnificent in a subtle performance as Amy. Ray Winstone is Vince.
Fred Schipisi succeeded in creating the right atmosphere in the adaptation of the novel. His sensitive direction works well and he gets excellent backing from his distinguished cast.
Upon reaching a certain age, especially when a proper catalyst is provided,
one may become wont to consider and reflect upon the life one has lived-- to
take stock, as it were. And, without question, the death of a long-time,
close friend or associate can effect such a catalysis, which is precisely
what happens in `Last Orders,' directed by Fred Schepisi, a drama that
suggests that perhaps the end of a life can offer a valuable and renewed
perspective to those who go on to write yet another chapter of their own in
this great book we fondly know as the Human Comedy. Finally, it's about
individual resolve and beginnings that can be found in endings, and the life
therein reserved for those who may yet count themselves among the living.
Jack (Michael Caine), a working class butcher in London, planned one day to retire with his lovely wife, Amy (Helen Mirren), to the seaside hamlet of Margate. As often happens in life, however, Jack was denied the realization of his dream by the unbidden intervention of Fate, in the form of it's eternal emissary, The Grim Reaper. But Jack enters his everlasting sleep even as he lived his life, one step ahead of the other guy; and the attainment of his final wish begins with the consigning of his ashes to his three closest, life-long friends and his son, Vince (Ray Winstone), along with a request he adjures them as a group to honor. And so it is that Vince, Vic (Tom Courtenay), Lenny (David Hemmings), and Jack's best friend, Ray (Bob Hoskins), set out on a journey to effect the `Last orders' of their good friend, Jack; a journey that will take them into the future by way of the past, as they reflect upon what has gone before, and the possibilities that now lay ahead.
With this film, Schepisi has crafted and delivered what is essentially a moment in time; a moment he examines through a sentimental journey rife with all of the hard knocks and stoic truths that made up Jack's life, and which he presents just as Jack lived it. And a sentimental journey though it may be, don't expect to be seeing it through rose colored glasses. As the story unfolds, what emerges is a portrait of a complex individual made up of the myriad and many facets of the human condition. And each flashback, combined with an episode from the present, reveals another piece of the puzzle that was Jack; and by the end, the picture we have of him is complete. We see him for who and what he really was, good, bad or indifferent, with all the flaws and foibles that were part and parcel of the ebb and flow of his life-- everything that defined him as a human being. Also, inasmuch as the story is told through the eyes of his friends and loved ones, it necessarily follows that they are revealed, as well, especially Amy and Ray. We do get to know Vince, Vic and Lenny, of course, but to something of a lesser degree. In the final analysis, then, what Schepisi has created here is nothing less than an intimate and incisive character study through which Jack, his friends and their story comes vividly to life. Schepisi does the material proud, but then he was, of course, afforded the talents of an extraordinarily gifted ensemble cast, from which he extracts a number of memorable performances.
As Lawrence Jamieson in 1988's `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' he was the most suave and sophisticated gentleman (albeit con man) the screen has seen since Niven or Grant, but without question, since his portrayal of `Alfie,' in 1966, Michael Caine has been everyones favorite cockney, and no one-- make that NO one-- does it better. And it's precisely that nuance of character that Caine brings to his portrayal of Jack that makes him so alive and convincing. Caine can be ingratiating even when he's playing a `hard' guy, and there is a decidedly hard side to Jack; but there's a very caring side to Jack, too, which Caine also manages to convey with facility, and he does a splendid job of fusing the many sides of his character into one very real whole. It's the kind of top notch performance we've come to expect from Caine, and it makes his character and the film entirely credible.
When it comes to playing cockney, Caine may be the King, but Bob Hoskins is certainly the Crown Prince, coming in a close second. These two, in fact, would clean up if the Oscars ever decided to include the categories of Best Cockney and Best Supporting Cockney. There are times, perhaps, when you have to turn an ear in to understand what they're saying, but it's part of the charm and viability of their respective portrayals. And Hoskins has an appeal all his own, and though he lacks Caine's charisma, he does have a definite screen presence, all of which helps to make the relationship between Ray and Jack believable.
The wonderful Helen Mirren, meanwhile, turns in a remarkably poignant performance as Amy. Her portrayal readily brings the inner conflicts and complexities of her character to the fore, as Mirren successfully shows us the many sides of this woman, who is wife, lover and mother, all rolled into one. Most importantly, her Amy is so human; there is an earthiness to her, but it is tempered by her more maternal and caring instincts, and it lends an honesty and integrity to the character that makes her very real.
Courtenay, Hemmings and Winstone turn in noteworthy performances, too, each making the utmost of the screen time they are afforded, successfully establishing their characters and the nature of their relationship with Jack as well as one another. It's all a part of what makes `Last Orders' such entertaining and engaging cinema, a film that is both sincere and unforgettable. And that's the magic of the movies. 9/10.
This is a wonderfully warm and human film, perhaps a "guy's movie" as opposed to the many "girls' movies." How can you miss with such a great cast? Helen Mirren. Bob Hoskins. Michael Caine. They do a wonderful job on the story of old friends devastated by the loss of one of their group. If I have one criticism it is the overuse of flashbacks. There even are flashbacks within flashbacks. It's followed easily enough yet the total effect is one of choppiness. But the story is warm, the performances solid and a bonus is the many scenes in and around London. The Brits, unlike Hollywood, do not demand that everything be pretty and that the sun always shine. Helen Mirren is excellent again as a woman past the prime of life. Hollywood would have tarted her up. And there are plenty of grey skies and rainshowers. (Hey, this is England after all} A very fine film that obviously was a labour of love.
This is acting of the very highest order by a British dream cast. The pace is leisurely, the tone sad, the journey well worth taking. Why no Oscar nominations? This is so un-Hollywood, it's a balm for adults who want to appreciate the cream of British talent.
You know, when I saw this film, there were maybe seven people in the
huge theatre at Loews Outer Circle DC. It was kind of disconcerting. I
mean, who could blame people -- the film got no billboards or even
advertisements, and I only heard about it through reviews in the
But this one's a keeper: last time you had Caine & Hoskins working like this
was Neil Jordan's crime drama "Mona Lisa." It's great to see them
This is really an ensemble film, with great direction and great editing as well. The flashbacks are very well placed, so you don't get a sense of distraction as much as clarification as the filkm goes on. And the filmmakers wisely decide to use visual cues for the memories, instead of arbitrary looks back at the past.
I can say after seeing this film, I hope that I can end my life with the same kind of buddies as Jack Dodds (withou' o' co'se the necessi'y o' ge'in sloshed every nigh'.) The ensemble really works well off each other -- Ray Winstone, who was nearly incomprehensible in Sexy Beast, here shows a bit more substance as Jack's wayward but successful son. Helen Mirren pulls in a much more vulnerable performance than usual as Jack's wife (and the woman who played her as a young woman is stunning.) Tom Courtenay and David Hemmings provide a nice contrast as the proper undertaker Vic, and the drunken ex-boxer Lenny, yet you can see how they would both appeal to a guy like Jack, a lover of life.
Of course, for reasons I don't know if I'll ever get, Hoskins is the anchor. I've watched him for many years, playing brutes and sidekicks, mobsters, and fathers, at times playing the Irish, the Australian, the English, or the Italian-American. He has way of blending in and winning your attention. He can be brash, idiotic, cruel, or sweet, wise, and bold, but either way you kind of root for the guy. You can always seem to see his wheels turning just by facial expressions. The guy might never get an Oscar, but his performances are almost always memorable.
The young actors all convincingly match their older counterparts,a and I found myself watching the way the young Vic went about his medical work and swing dancing and wondering if I'd be lucky enough to end up that way, as Jack says, "having it figured out."
The ultimate message of the film is as simple and yet profoundly human as the story itself: ending your life is easy, it's the carryin' on that's hard. That's not to say that life is meaningless or awful, but just that you've got to put your heart into it, as Schepisi himself has done here. "Last Orders" and "Lantana" are two of the best unknown films out there right now. Check 'em out.
This film is based on a novel by a man named Swift but rather than being a
biting satire, it's a film that only a person with a heart of stone could
sit through wihtout breaking into tears. While the novel was praised
for it's experimental style, it's the tenderness and humanity that make
Wonderfully acted by Michael Caine, helen Mirren, Bob Hoskins and others, it tells the tale of a London butcher's journey to his final resting place and a composite picture of his life is gradually drawn by the people who take him there. his story covers 70 years of british history which are lovingly recreated, but it's the personalities that are striking rather than the historical events that shape their lives. The film has moments of almost sublime beauty and pathos. It's a film that reminds us that, no matter how trivial our lives seem, we still have an impact on those around us.
Those of us who lament the decline of British cinema into a quagmire of Gangster flicks and rom-coms will embrace this film like a long-lost relative.
It would be hard to imagine a finer troupe of actors than those assembled
for the very believable "Last Orders." An ensemble that meshes so well that
I was drawn into the screen barely conscious of their real identities and
filmography, the story of the long ride of a man's cremated ashes to his
selected disposal site, Margate (of all places - garish, timeworn, solidly
tired) is gripping.
Through flashbacks to events both recent and as far back as combat in the North African desert in World War II the story of three close friends, the wife of one and their son (and peripherally but not insignificantly their catastrophically mentally retarded daughter) reflects the daily small joys and not great setbacks of very average English people. All the characters here could well be neighbors of the folks in "The Full Monty," people whose days are locally if unspectacularly productive and whose pleasures center in daily convivial meetings at the local pub.
Jack (Michael Caine) faces death more bravely and honestly than he ever did his total rejection of his and his wife's (Helen Mirren) daughter. His disappointment at his son's refusal to join him in the butcher business has been the lot of many. An American version of this tragic rejection would have the son spurn the family business for acting or law or medicine or the Presidency. Jack's son is quite happy to sell cars. A nice touch of English class reality.
Jack's ashes make a number of detours enroute to Margate while his widow pursues her own very necessary and moving journey to personal closure and the prospect of future happiness. At each stop the relations between the four men in the borrowed Mercedes become more interwoven, detailed and - ultimately - important for each as their mission nears accomplishment.
The direction is superb as is the muted, sometimes hazy cinematography. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with even the best cast portraying non-Oxbridge types, some speech is indecipherable. Ray Winstone is the chief malefactor in the mumbles competition but his acting is convincing - a fine actor from whom much can be expected. An elderly woman leaving the theater near me remarked, "This wasn't about a Gosford Park - the film needed subtitles." Yes, we have our class consciousness on the Upper West Side too.
This is a very special film that deserves the widest distribution. It won't get it though, not here. If you can't see it in a theater, rent it when it becomes available.
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.
It's funny to read the reviews of those who haven't understood this
perfectly balanced film - but then it is clever and subtle and, apart
from being sad and touching is extremely funny.
I've seldom seen characters, situations, attitudes and emotions more perfectly balanced than in this shining gem of a film. It took me right back to Pom and, in particular, the best, most understated delights of the place.
There were so many sensitively treated sub-plots and topics that it is difficult to select one for particular praise. I think that it would have to be the adultery.
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