Eternals – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Kit Harrington
Directed by Chloé Zhao
Written by Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Chloé Zhao and Matthew K. Firpo
Length: 157mins

Heading into the 26th installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s a point where you begin to wonder just where these films can possibly go next. However, ‘Eternals’ seemed like the first in a little while where there was a promise of something new and exciting to be offered. From the trailers, audiences were excited to be put in the hands of one of the most exciting directors working today – Chloé Zhao, as well as seeing a diverse cast of characters and an interesting storyline that seemed to focus more on the way in which superheroes interact with the culture and history of their world, rather than the usual action sequences that comprise a large amount of these films.

Whilst there were some moments of stunning cinematography, where the framing and stylistic choices greatly benefitted the emotions of a character or scene, it can’t be said that there’s any sort of consistency when it comes to these moments. Though it’s recently been revealed that a large amount of the film was shot on location rather than using the usual green screen approach, it’s hard to truly appreciate these moments of naturalism when most of the screen is being overwhelmed by large CGI creatures. For this instalment, they’re known as ‘Deviants’, and as usual, put up a fight good enough to show off the Eternals powers, without there being any sort of moral conflict surrounding the physical altercation taking place.

With seven-thousand years of humanity’s history to work with, the writers do well to pick out some interesting and pivotal moments to place the Eternals within, testing their willingness to remain obedient and maintain impartiality over human conflict. Through these flashbacks, we’re able to better understand what makes each of the Eternals unique, exploring what drives and motivates them. There’s some interesting moments of both humour and conflict between the group, but many of these conversations are fairly exposition-heavy, simply serving as a cutaway to provide more information for when we catch up to the modern world. For a two-and-a-half hour film, there doesn’t feel as if there’s much time when the story is able to simply slow down and let scenes play out naturally or with ambiguity – a stylistic trait that Zhao has become known for, but I imagine the Marvel producers are not so supportive of. You definitely felt the length of the film around the halfway mark, but by the end it seemed as if it needed another fifteen minutes just to simply round off the story in a more impactful way. Final goodbyes felt as if they were cut for time, and many characters had only a small conclusion despite playing a pivotal role in the film – but I suppose when it comes to Marvel there’s no need for goodbyes, as there’s always a sequel around the corner.

If you’re a fan of Marvel then you won’t need my recommendation to get yourself a ticket, but if you aren’t such a big Comic fan, I imagine you might find ‘Eternals’ a bit of a stretch to get through. Despite that, it’s always enjoyable watching these superheroes fight it out on the big screen, so if you’re just looking forward to a fun time, you can’t go too far wrong with this latest instalment in the MCU.

The Harder They Fall – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield and Idris Elba. Directed by Jeymes Samuel Written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. Length: 139mins  

When outlaw Nat Love discovers that the man who murdered his parents in front of him as a child is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to take revenge. What more could you ask for? A revenge Western packed with memorable characters played by brilliant actors, each scene and moment staged for power and authority. 

This movie caught my attention while scrolling through Netflix, mostly thanks to the big name cast. The trailer presents a very accurate snapshot of what it is, a contemporary Western, which is an interesting concept in itself. Now the plot is relatively basic, but the content is just so interesting to watch. You can see a lot of Jeymes Samuels influences within the film, it feels very Tarantino at times and is a really artistic film. The framing and the camerawork is beautiful, the colour palette is vibrant and the music is something else. While the general aesthetic is classic western,  there are quick-draws, large-scale gunfights, horse stunts, and chases, a train robbery, bank robberies, and a couple of hand-to-hand brawls with several cliches that we would expect in a Western; bottles smashed over heads, fights with pitch forks, men thrown out of windows etc…the soundtrack and fight sequences are the main elements that keep it feeling modern and fresh.

The Harder They Fall is Jeymes Samuel’s debut feature film but his CV boasts experience of working with some incredible talent. In this film he gifts his actors with precious moments where their characters are allowed to listen to each other and quietly glance at each other. It truly feels like a ‘filmmakers film’ and I can only imagine that the cast leapt at the opportunity to be a part of it. While the whole cast is strong, lead by the brilliant Jonathan Majors, there are a couple who stand out. Idris Elba, unsurprisingly, brings a cool, mysterious quiet to the high energy of the rest of the cast and Regina King who we all know delivers in every single role. King brought everything that her character required, moments of vulnerability countered with absolute brutal, no nonsense reactions.

Now the film does feel quite long, the plot isn’t particularly captivating and some of it is fairly predictable, but it’s very difficult to criticise a film that really does feel like art. Yes, it wont be to everyones taste, but it really is worth the watch for all of the heart that comes through in its presentation. While speaking to GQ, Samuel said  “I always loved Westerns, but they would always present a very narrow scope in those stories. They’d be very white male-centric. They wouldn’t even show women with any power in those stories.” and I think you can really feel his words in this movie, he explores human nature, gives voices to powerful women and explores a genre that he clearly cares so much about.

Dune – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgard, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling
Directed by Denis Villenevue
Written by Frank Herbert (Adapted from the novel by) Denis Villenevue, Eric Roth and Jon Spaihts
Length: 155mins

Often described as an ‘unfilmable’ novel, Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction classic has seen many directors try, without much success, to bring its story to life on the big screen. Most notably attempted by Alejandro Jodorowsky in the 70’s, and then later converted into a major blockbuster by David Lynch in the 80’s, who felt deeply unsatisfied by the final result due to studio interference, it seems that to take up adapting ‘Dune’ has always been a doomed task. However, if there was any director who might have a chance of turning a great text into a great film, it’s Denis Villenevue – the man responsible for some of the most original and creative blockbusters this side of the 2000’s. 

Garnering widespread attention from early in it’s production, ‘Dune’ stirred up a lot of conversation not only due to its ambitious source material, but also because of the incredible cast that the filmmakers appeared to be assembling. Timothée Chalamet, fresh off the heels of ‘The French Dispatch’ being released earlier in the week, takes up the lead role of Paul, the youthful son of Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), leader of house Atreides – one of the key families who rule over the universe. Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), however, is also from a powerful bloodline, being an acolyte of the Bene Gesserit, a female order whose advanced physical and mental abilities are unmatched. One of the many things which I admired about ‘Dune’ was its focus on a Mother-Son relationship to lead the film, as such dynamics are rarely explored on these large scale productions. Together, Chalamet and Ferguson put in some brilliant performances, and the complexity of their relationship develops along with the narrative, drawing on moments of uncertainty as to whether they each have the best interests of the other at heart. 

To talk about ‘Dune’ and not mention its visuals would not do the film any sort of justice. Greig Fraser’s camerawork is absolutely breathtaking at times, delivering everything you’d want from a sci-fi blockbuster, and more. The colour palette consistently plays around with yellow and orange tones, painting each scene with its own beautiful composition. Furthermore, the costume and set design on display are just as incredible. There’s a clear divisiveness between the futuristic setting and the traditional values and styles upheld by the characters that never needs to be mentioned aloud by anyone, as the art department does such a brilliant job showing this juxtaposition visually. Despite being two and a half hours in length, no shot ever feels unnecessary, and no shot ever seems to let down the intriguing and meticulous aesthetic which is established throughout. 

The first of two parts, Denis Villenevue absolutely made the right decision when it came to adapting Herbert’s eight-hundred page novel. Despite going into ‘Dune’ knowing that it would ultimately end on a cliffhanger, I never felt that the film served only to lead into the second. Character and story arcs were established and developed within the space of the film in a captivating and gripping manner. The way in which Villenevue is able to introduce each character and perfectly encapsulate their personality within minutes is a talent that was required when working with such an all-star cast, and as a result the film’s pacing is absolutely perfect. Each sequence works not only within its own space, but also to serve the greater narrative. ‘Dune’ is a masterclass in filmmaking on perhaps the biggest level, just as all of Villenevue’s films are, and I imagine Part Two will be no exception to the rule. We can only wonder how our own stories will have changed when we sit down for the next installation in two years time.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Stephen Graham Directed by Andy Serkis Written by Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy Length: 97mins

In Venom: Let There Be Carnage we rejoin Eddie Brock (Hardy), a struggling journalist and host to the cheeky, gravel-voiced alien ‘symbiote’, Venom, seemingly living their now entangled lives. The plot revolves around serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson), who Eddie interviews in hopes to reignite his career. Throughout the action Kasady is infected with his own symbiote, Carnage, who wreaks havoc and sets his sights on destroying Venom while searching for Kasady’s mutant girlfriend.

It sounds as ridiculous as it is…but if you buy into the world then it’s definitely an easy and somewhat entertaining watch. Venom and Brock are somewhat lesser known ‘anti-heroes’ but after the success of the first film, fans were keen to jump back in and see which stories were left to tell. What I really enjoy about this film, is the lack of backstory. Serkis doesn’t feel the need for overcomplicated world-building. It seems that you either buy in, and accept what you’re being told, or you don’t and that your enjoyment will likely hinge on that level of acceptance.  Searches dispense with the detailed explanations and instead amps up the humour, leaning into the more goofy dynamic between Venom and Brock.

What is interesting about this film is the level of absolute talent interwoven. Tom Hardy really creates a wonderful character dynamic between his human character and alien counterpart, while the humour is at the forefront, there is a connection that the audience can see, he creates a brilliant emotional core that shows itself at intervals throughout the action which can’t be an easy task to undertake. Woody Harrelson jumps straight in and throws all of his energy at his part, Kasady is an interesting serial killer, if slightly predictable at times. Supporting characters including Eddie’s ex, played by Michelle Williams and Kasady’s girlfriend Frances, played by Naomie Harris don’t really get much of a look in. Harris is fun but underused, and Williams is really just brushed over. It’s a shame to have such talent in a film without really needing or using them. 

This quirky sequel is lighthearted, action packed and amusing. You’ll know if you’re going to like it, probably from just looking at the poster. It’s an easy, short watch that will allow you to escape reality if you can get behind it. If you didn’t enjoy the first film, you’re unlikely to enjoy the second. Take it as it is and it’s a fun way to spend 90 minutes but if you’re looking for stirring plot points or world changing revelation then it’s not for you.   

The French Dispatch – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Léa Seydoux, Adrien Brody, Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton and Owen Wilson
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola and Hugo Guinness
Length: 108mins

Arguably the most critically-acclaimed and popular arthouse director working today, Wes Anderson’s name alone conjures up ideas of symmetrical imagery, all-star casts and quirky, nostalgic stories. Finally, after months of waiting, his latest film is now here – ‘The French Dispatch’ – and it’s packed full of everything that makes a Wes Anderson film, plus a little more.

Perhaps most similar in structure to ‘Grand Budapest’, Anderson’s latest release is divided into three distinct stories, all of which are established through their connection to a European newspaper as having been the three best articles they’ve published over the last decade. In the small spaces between these stories, we catch glimpses of the French Dispatch itself, a dedicated but slightly obscure publication which is home to a charming group of individuals who seem at first to work better alone than as any sort of team. Head of the whole operation, BIll Murray’s ‘Arthur Howitzer Jr.’ unites this bunch and auspiciously pushes them to greatness from behind the scenes.

Ten films into his ever-expanding career, any fans of Wes Anderson will know what they’re getting in for when they sit down for another of his stories. However, although there are many stylistic choices in this latest release which could easily be compared to his previous work – the obsessive attention to visual detail, a fondness for fast-talking, witty dialogue, as well as characters who wouldn’t be out of place in the stories found on any childs’ bookcase – ‘The French Dispatch’ shows audiences that the director is still developing his approach to filmmaking in fresh and exciting ways. Some visual moments within this release, particularly during night scenes, deliver a few of the most breathtaking shots that I’ve seen on the big screen in a long time. A consideration for the way snow falls, or the contrast between human conflict and natural imagery makes for some incredible visual storytelling. Furthermore, particular moments within both the prison story and the student rebellion include such inventive approaches to narrative that it’s hard to believe we don’t see such things more often. The changing of the young Moses Rosenthaler to his Senior delivers a simple, but beautiful moment. If there’s one thing in particular that Wes Anderson should be remembered for, it’s his ability to deliver these small moments of beauty in subtle yet powerful ways. Whilst ‘The French Dispatch’ may not be one of his greatest releases, it’s undeniable that there are some really excellent pieces of filmmaking on display at times.

Although I think that bringing to life three of the best stories released by a publication is a fitting and poignant way to honour it’s time as a popular news department, in practice, the short nature of the stories often detracts from an audience’s ability to truly invest in the characters, and when these characters are being brought to life by an A-star cast list longer than this review, it can become even harder to ensure that everyone receives as much screen time as an audience may expect. This lack of connection between the viewer and the characters is what really detracts from the emotional impact of ‘The French Dispatch’, and whilst there are some great stories surrounding characters such as the dynamic relationship explored between Benicio Del Toro’s ‘Moses Rosenthaler’, Léa Seydoux’s ‘Simone’, and Adrien Brody’s ‘Julian Cadazio’ in the first story, as well as that of Timothée Chalamet’s and Frances McDormand’s poetic relationship which works as the driving force behind the second short story, overall there are so many characters introduced that you can’t help but feel slightly apathetic towards many of them.  

‘The French Dispatch’ is such a well-made and, at times, brilliant film, that whilst it may not be the strongest or most well-paced story by Wes Andesron, there’s still so much to gain from it. Even if it’s the first film of his that you’ve seen, I’d definitely recommend giving it a watch. If you end up loving it, you’ll suddenly have a brilliant back-catalogue of films to enjoy.

The Last Duel – Review

Rating: 18 Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck and Alex Lawther. Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Length: 152mins.

Inspired by Eric Jager’s 2004 account of France’s last officially recognised duel, Ridley Scott takes on the task of telling this medieval tale broken down into three chapters and told from three perspectives. The story is one of rape-revenge focussing primarily on three characters – Jean de Carrouges (Damon), his wife Marguerite (Comer) and Jacques Le Gris, exploring the downward spiral of de Carrouges, the arrogant rise of Le Gris and the impossible choices facing Marguerite as her husbands absence is taken advantage of. 

The Last Duel gets somewhat bogged down in the mud and blood of its period; a whole mix of arrows-in-the-face type violence and war, none of which I have a problem with, but it seemed to drag the film out and distract from the main story. While it did assist somewhat in setting the scene, I didn’t feel that it was fully necessary to include so much.  Having said this, the actual storytelling was really clever and very well written. Each perspective was similar enough for the audience to know what’s happening, but with brilliantly subtle changes, contrasting tone and dialogue – right up until the rape scene which was, in line with telling the story from perspectives, a significantly different event to each character. 

This film was expertly cast. Adam Driver played his role perfectly, he is fully believable in his arrogance and aggression but allows an appealing vulnerability into his role that just keeps his Le Gris interesting, until, of course, you realise the sort of man he is. This is one of Matt Damon’s finer performances in recent years. He plays in contractions – he’s clearly a well respected, strong warrior, but he is overwhelmed and constantly trying to keep his head above water. We see a good amount of Damon’s range in this film, he really is a brilliant watch. Jodie Comer is phenomenal. Those of us who have watched her rise in the acting industry are very well aware of how brilliant she is but this film is a mighty task and she’s flawless. She fully holds her own while working with Hollywood A-Listers, she demonstrates depth, innocence and the complexities of her character and without her the film would not have such an impact.

Interestingly, many reviews are not speaking of The Last Duel too favourably. It seems that many issues from a reviewers point of view surround the fact that, though Comer is brilliant, the drama is centred on the men; the three part structure means Marguerite can only get one third of our attention. I can see what is being said here – it’s an important topic and it could seemingly pull focus. However, there were three parties involved at the centre of the story, the time period would not allow or listen to a woman making accusations without the backing of her husband and so I cannot see another way to tell this story. Also, the films title is The Last Duel – an act that could only be undertaken by the men, the duel is featured (perhaps taking a little too much screen time in my view…) and therefore the history of the two men, their perspectives and the journey that got them to the duel are important. The story is told, the impact on Marguerite is brilliantly portrayed and audiences are walking away with her story at the front of their mind. For me, that tells me that the film has done what it intended to do.

Limbo – Review

Rating: 12A
Cast: Amir El-Masry, Vikash Bhai, Ola Orebiyi, Kwabena Ansah
Directed by Ben Sharrock
Written by Ben Sharrock
Length: 104mins

Stuck on a remote Scottish island whilst waiting for asylum in the UK, Omar, a young, but talented musician finds the will of himself and those around him tested as they wait in desperation for a better life, whilst living in a place that seems to have no life of its own.

‘Limbo’ balances humor and tragedy with a skill that few films possess, which is made even more impressive when you consider that this is only director Ben Sharrock’s second film. At times you’ll find yourself unable to hold back your laughter, as the film delivers some hilarious moments which play on the attitudes of the islanders, as well as the hopeless “real-world” training that’s assigned to those on the island. At the same time, ‘Limbo’ delivers some eye-opening moments of sincerity which build up a dramatic tone throughout the film, turning the film into something more than just a comedy.

Ben Sharrocks’ film may be one of the most beautiful films put to screen this year, drawing from the symmetrical nature of Wes Anderson’s style and applying a darker and more hopeless tone to it. It’s through this bleak cinematography that we feel sympathetic for those stuck on the island, and it doesn’t take long for their hopes to escape become our own hope, simply through the visuals. However, later elements of the film which explore who these people were before they became stuck in this strange limbo utilise some beautiful moments of cinematography and sound, introducing themes of nostalgia and longing which contrast with the bleak nature of the world found around Omar and the other asylum seekers now. Through this, the director shows the conflict within the characters of whether they should keep pushing forward in hopes of a new life, or return to the safety of what they know. However, the safety of what they know may not be as safe as it once was, and Sharrock has created a brilliant film which meditates on this conflict.

It may not be as easy to find as our usual recommendations, with ‘Limbo’ coming and going from our big screens without too much fanfare. However, it’s a film with so much to offer, and I can safely say it’ll be near the top of my year-end list. If you get a chance, definitely give this one a watch.

No Time To Die – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge Length:163mins

 Finally – the long awaited 25th instalment of Ian Flemings well loved British agent, 007, has hit our big screens. After having it’s release postponed several times throughout the Covid:19 pandemic, the world seemed to hold it’s breath as thousands returned to the cinema. With all eyes on it’s release, No Time To Die not only wanted to end the ‘Daniel Craig as James Bond’ era with a bang; but shouldered the pressure of enticing customers back to the cinemas.

In No Time To Die Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace and quiet is short-lived when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leiter turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. 

While this film has been criticised for not being ‘Bond enough’, I would have to disagree. The writers have done a good job in creating a story that is fleshed out with action, relationship, humour and, of course, gadgets. There are some lovely nods to past Bond films through the use of its score, one liners and the familiar location of a private island which calls to mind 1962 release, Dr. No. It was a wise move to bring the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge into the writers room, you can certainly see her influence around the strong female characters and wit, as well as being mindful of keeping the essence of James Bond in a post #MeToo society. 

No Time To Die gives it’s audiences the chance to experience the deeper relationship between James and Madeleine, showing a more emotional side of 007, a side that we don’t usually get to see. The chemistry between the two, in my opinion, was better than it was in Spectre which made the whole relationship feel more authentic. Due to the deeper relationship and their history, it presented an opportunity for another two strong women to enter the story without being love interests. Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas didn’t disappoint. Both brought flair and humour to characters who were fiercely capable and complimentary to moving the story forward. As far as Bond villains go, this film hits the jackpot. While having two different villains does take away from the impact of one sole threat, you can’t really complain when the characters are manned by the cool, controlled calm of Christoph Waltz and countered with the somewhat wired, yet considered, Rami Malek. 

Visually this film doesn’t disappoint and is full of action. As Daniel Craig’s final Bond film it does have loose ends to tie up so the franchise can move forward. Unfortunately the length is a slight sticking point, at 2hrs43 it is quite a commitment and there are certainly moments that could have been cut, as they serve no purpose in moving the plot forward. No Time To Die is absolutely worth a watch, and on a big screen. There’s something wonderful about returning to a packed cinema to watch a film from long running franchise, with multigenerational audiences all enjoying and connecting to a character that has graced Cinema and TV screens for years. 

Annette – Review

Rating: 15
Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg and Devyn McDowell
Directed by Leos Carax
Written by Ron and Russell Mael
Length: 140mins

A slightly detached and dystopian version of modern day LA takes up the setting of Leos Carax’s latest release, ‘Annette’, and although the film takes on the usual extravagances of a high-budget musical, between the high-functioning characters and their equally high-stakes public appearances, you can’t help but feel that there’s something more sinister going on behind the scenes. 

Adam Driver’s electrifying performance as Henry McHenry, a comedian with a tendency for indulging in the darker side of things when it comes to his shows, is another in the multitude of brilliant characters taken on by Driver in recent years. His intense and unmistakable presence on screen is established not only through his quite-literally massive physical appearance, but also in the erratic subtleties that he applies to this role as an equally erratic performer. Marion Cotillard also puts in a great performance as Ann Desfranoux, an opera singer who’s seen in the public eye as a divine and delicate figure – the beauty to Driver’s beast. Together, ‘Annette’ explores the power couple dynamic which forms when the two begin dating, and as the narrative progresses, so does the state of their relationship – for better or for worse.

In terms of pacing, Carax’s modern musical blockbuster hurdles along at a blistering pace, and isn’t afraid to move things forward quickly, with a good number of years being covered during the 140 minutes runtime. Combined with the incredible production design which emphasises the extravagance of this story, ‘Annette’ has an undeniable feeling of grandeur, whilst still managing to maintain an arthouse aesthetic which benefits the more surreal undertakings of the director. Love it or hate it – which I imagine many will – aside from its musical origins, ‘Annette’ feels like an entirely new kind of film, and one which I’m sure will influence future generations, but remain untouchable due to the unique nature of both its story and production.

Written by the infamous ‘Sparks’ brothers, it seemed almost obvious that ‘Annette’ would deliver its story through the use of music. However, I felt that it was actually the songwriting within the film that let the whole thing down. Often extremely repetitive and lacking in subtlety, it seemed a shame that a surrealist narrative delivered from the minds of songwriters who’ve been at it for over forty years couldn’t provide some more exciting or ambiguous lyricism. A multitude of sequences felt as if they dragged on simply because the characters were unable to do more than repeat the same lines of music over and over. Perhaps after multiple viewings, and time to allow the songs to become earworms, their presence may seem more necessary, but upon a first watch, I can’t say I was completely won over.

All in all, it’s undeniable that ‘Annette’ is a bold achievement in both extravagance and absurdity from the French-born director, and whilst there is a lot to love about the film – in particular its performances – it’s difficult to imagine any audience being in one-hundred percent agreement over this one, but that’s no reason not to give it a go and make your own opinion of it.

The Last Bus – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Timothy Spall, Phyllis Logan, Ben Ewing and Natalie Mitson. Directed by Gillies MacKinnon Written by Joe Ainsworth Length: 86mins

The last bus follows Tom, a retired engineer, who, upon losing his wife decides that he wants to make one last, long bus trip. After a tragedy early on in their marriage, the pair moved from Lands End up to John O’Groats and the film picks up with Tom as he sets about making the trip back down to the most southernly part of England to wrap up the story of their love. 

In theory, this Brit-flick should be a warm, relatively easy watch; pulling at the heartstrings of it’s audience as they follow the elderly hero as he sets off on his nostalgic journey. Unfortunately, for me it just didn’t translate. Although it was a short film, I was checking my watch, it just didn’t move quite as smoothly as I’d hoped and I found it quite disjointed. Each new scene brought a whole new drama, it almost became funny as every possible thing that could have happened to Tom on his trip, does. 

Having said this, Timothy Spall plays Tom with integrity and commitment. He doesn’t present the total cliche of ‘cute old man’, which at least makes the character a bit more of a ‘real person’. We are allowed to feel his heartbreak and confusion as he negotiates the trip. It was a nice touch to have the memories of Tom and Mary’s relationship when they were first married, it broke up the action and allows the audience to connect with the pair and their experiences.It’s through Tom’s memories that we find the film’s emotional core – why he and his wife moved from Cornwall to the most northern point of the UK and the reasons for some of his stop-offs.

It’s a shame but this film just doesn’t hit the mark, it’s a slow mover that feels like drama has been added simply to push the story along. The writing feels lazy to the point that even with fantastic actors, there is only so much that could be done. Not worth a watch in my opinion.