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I tried to recall the movies about alcoholism I have seen; I stopped after The Days of Wine and Roses and 28 Days. I've probably seen more, but the subject is just so depressing and makes so many demands on the viewer that forgetting is easier than remembering. The trouble with addiction is that it reduces the possibilities of life, makes people less interesting and less able to communicate with others. Le Dernier pour la route is a bold attempt to get inside the alcoholic's head, to examine his fears and failures to deal with life. The scene in which Pierre admits his terror to Herve that he won't be able to deal with life on the outside moved me very much. If the sketchy aspect of Magali's character is a drag on the film, that is one of the few drawbacks in an otherwise strong effort from Philippe Godeau.
There is no actor in France like Francois Cluzet for portraying isolation and desperation, and here he makes us feel how cornered Herve feels: his wife really doesn't want him to come back home and his son thinks the condition is a sign of moral weakness. Michel Vuillermoz is so gallant as Pierre that we feel his ultimate fate the more keenly.
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