Starring: Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine and Helen Mirren
Director: Fred Schepisi
Last Orders is, literally, about a dying breed.
Four wartime friends have drunk at the same pub for 40 years. When Jack Dodds (Michael Caine), the de facto leader of the quartet and local butcher, dies he leaves instructions for his wife Amy (Helen Mirren) and his mates Lenny (David Hemmings), Vic (Tom Courtenay) and Ray (Bob Hoskins) to take his ashes to the beach and scatter them into the sea. His wife can’t do it, so she delegates her son Vince (Ray Winstone) to join his father’s mates on the journey.
As they make their trip through the beautiful English countryside, they visit several pubs, get into all manner of scraps and several very funny mishaps, and are flooded with memories of their life with Jack and one another.
Jack’s death is the catalyst for everyone in this circle to face up to memories they want to scatter with Jack’s ashes. It’s not so easy.
Based on Graham Swift’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Last Orders is a multi-layered film that lays bare one secret after another.
Australian director Fred Schepisi does a wonderful job galvanising this extraordinary array of British talent into a fine ensemble piece.
All the performances are enjoyable, especially Hoskins’, but Helen Mirren’s accent doesn’t quite convince us of her working class credentials. It’s a small detail in comparison to the excellent pace, terrific locations and photography. The costume and make-up department do an excellent job in moving through every era from the 40s to the 90s.
Last Orders is a warm and generous film with serious things to say about how irregular the pub’s regulars can be, and that their pints are not the only bitterness they taste each day.