Last Orders
Cheers. After 50 years, the gang is still together (Caine, Hoskins, Courtenay and Hemmings)
dir-scr Fred Schepisi
with Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Ray Winstone, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings, JJ Feild, Kelly Reilly, Anatol Yusef, Stephen McCole, Laura Morelli, Cameron Fitch
release UK 11.Jan.02; US 15.Feb.02
01/UK 1h48

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
last orders Based on Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel, this nostalgic tale looks at friendship, loyalty and family through an intricate series of flashbacks. Jack's (Caine) dying wish was to have his ashes thrown from the Margate Pier. His wife (Mirren) has other plans that day, so his son (Winstone) and three best friends (Hoskins, Courtenay and Hemmings) make the "epic" journey, all the while reminiscing about events over the course of their lives, slowly revealing the secrets that hold them together ... and divide them.

The film's complicated structure--flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks--is a bit confusing, but we can just about unravel the scenes into a coherent linear narrative about this ensemble's life together. And the meetings, interactions and, most importantly, revelations keep us interested. Just. It's not exactly riveting stuff as nothing much happens over the course of some 50 years. But due to all the jumping around we've got to pay attention. And there are rewards: Caine gives the film a strong centre even if he's on screen less than the others; Hoskins and Mirren deliver performances that are nice variations on what they've done before; Feild and Reilly are even better as the young Caine and Mirren. And Schepisi, in addition to holding it together plot-wise, films with a beautiful softness that still manages to capture an earthy sense of immediacy (it looks like a very well-produced low-budget film). But for all the complicated structure, powerhouse cast and layered storylines, the film is surprisingly dull and plodding, with little emotional resonance. It just never leaps off the screen and grabs us.
themes, language cert 15 20.Oct.01 lff

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "This rather obtuse but charismatic film is graced by some of England's finest actors. The plot is basically about the last request of Michael Caine's character (Dodds) to have his ashes scatterd off the end of Margate pier. (English irony in that Margate's pier is actually a harbour wall although it's well known as 'Margate pier'.) The film flashes back to scenes from the past where little nuggets of information are supplied to the audience of which the characters are already aware. These moments include each character's reminicences of the past with the deceased. The film has many linguistic ironies and jokes which are typical South London humour but easily translate to anywhere in the world. (My wife is Russian and she understood the jokes.) The story unfolds to the car journey of the four friends driving down to Margate via various stop offs along the way. All the while, Dodds' wife Amy (Helen Mirren) visits, as she has done for the past fifty years, their mentally retarded daughter. This may all sound rather dull, but go and see this film. It's one of the finest we've seen for a long time. The acting is absolutely superb, the twists and turns as the story unfolds are sometimes surprising but never dull. You won't get stupendous special effects but what you will get is engaging dialogue and real emotion, something sadly lacking in many films these days. This is a Rolls Royce film for discerning audiences, the best film we've seen for a long time!" --Ken Strain, Windsor UK 25.Jan.02 last orders

"Last Orders is an amazing movie, and I say it is of Oscars status. The cast gives a great performance, bringing the characters alive on screen. JJ Feild is a talented young actor, who deserves to be known more widely for his abilities. He is definatley the next British heartthrob!" --R.B., net 1.Apr.02

"What a fabulous movie! I'd like to have just enough short-term memory loss to be able to see Last Orders again for the first time. This film could have been a schmaltzy mess in anyone else's hands, but, thanks to Schepisi, this was brilliant. The cast could not have been better; special high-fives to all the actors who played the younger incarnations of these characters. Do yourself a favor - see this film." --Jeanne, Los Angeles 10.Oct.02

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall