Last Night (1998 film)

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Last Night
Last Night poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Don McKellar
Produced by Niv Fichman
Daniel Iron
Written by Don McKellar
Starring Don McKellar
Sandra Oh
Tracy Wright
Callum Keith Rennie
Sarah Polley
David Cronenberg
Music by Alexina Louie
Alex Pauk
Cinematography Douglas Koch
Edited by Reginald Harkema
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
Running time
95 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $2,300,000 CAD[1]
Box office $591,165[2]

Last Night is a 1998 Canadian apocalyptic black comedy-drama film directed by Don McKellar and starring McKellar, Sandra Oh and Callum Keith Rennie. McKellar wrote the screenplay inspired by the French film project 2000, Seen By... to depict different countries' perspectives on the imminent turn of the millennium, and opted to make the story about the end of the world. The film was made and released when many were concerned about the Year 2000 problem. It was filmed and set in Toronto.

The film was released to positive reviews for McKellar's direction and Oh's acting. It won awards at the Cannes and Toronto International Film Festivals, and three Genie Awards, including Best Actress for Oh.

Plot[edit]

In Toronto, a group of friends and family prepare for the end of the world, expected at midnight as the result of a calamity that is not explained, but which has been expected for several months. There has been panic and rioting after the imminent catastrophe was announced, but the chaos has since largely died down, with only sporadic murders and robberies. On the last evening, depressed widower Patrick meets with his family, including his sister Jennifer, for a mock Christmas dinner and celebration, though he leaves prematurely to spend his final hours alone in his apartment. He unexpectedly meets Sandra, who is stranded in the city and attempting to reunite with her new husband Duncan, who works at a power company. Duncan spends much of the day calling his customers to reassure them that their heating gas will be kept on until the very end. Sandra and Duncan have a suicide pact. Although intending to die alone, Patrick invites Sandra up to his apartment and attempts to help her find her husband.

Meanwhile, Patrick's best friend Craig embarks on a nearly non-stop sex marathon as he attempts to fulfill every fantasy he has ever had, pursuing interracial sex, sex with his old French teacher Mme. Carlton, and sex with a virgin, among others. With Sandra in need of a car and Craig having a car collection, Patrick and Sandra visit him and ask for one of his vehicles. Craig at first refuses, wanting to die with a complete collection, but Patrick persuades him to give one up. Craig also attempts to have a homosexual affair with Patrick, one of his fantasies, but Patrick indicates he is not interested in having sex with anyone on his last night.

Duncan is randomly murdered by a rioter, and Craig's car Sandra has borrowed is vandalized. Upon realizing she will not reunite with Duncan, Sandra asks Patrick to join her suicide pact. As midnight approaches, they both sit on the roof facing each other, listening to the song "Guantanamera", each holding a loaded pistol to the other's temple. However, as the final seconds approach, both characters are overcome with emotion and simultaneously let their pistols slip away as they slowly embrace in a kiss. The world finally ends.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Director Don McKellar wrote the script inspired by the upcoming millennium and a French film project to depict it.

Director Don McKellar wrote the screenplay after being approached by the French company Hout et Court,[1] which was putting together a project called "2000, Seen By..." consisting of films depicting the approaching millennium seen from the perspectives of 10 different countries.[3] Fearing a story about the millennium would become dated after 2000, McKellar was inspired to make his film about the end of the world,[4] and asked his friends what they would do if they knew the end was coming, basing his screenplay on their responses.[1] His script does not explain why the world is ending because he did not view that as the point of the story.[4] The film marked McKellar's first attempt at directing a feature film.[5]

For the $2.2 million budget, McKellar secured the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as the main sponsor, with Hout et Court providing less than half of the budget. Afterwards, more money was raised.[6]

Filming[edit]

Much of the filming took place in the Macdonald Block in Toronto.

For the part of Duncan, McKellar cast Canadian director David Cronenberg, with McKellar explainging, "He takes his acting seriously," and "Cronenberg typified a certain type of person for me: a soft-spoken, articulate, careful character who may have a wild interior life- the most sane or the most insane character in the film."[7] Initially concerned about directing and acting at the same time, McKellar opted to keep the direction simple, aiming for a "fairly austere and elegant" style.[1] Shortly before shooting began, he learned a Hollywood film called Armageddon was in the works, but opted to go ahead upon hearing the stories were substantially different.[4]

Last Night was filmed on location in and near Toronto between September 15 and October 19, 1997.[1] Shooting primarily took place at the Macdonald Block and apartment buildings near The Annex.[8] Filmmakers used computers to depict a car being overturned.[6]

Release[edit]

Last Night premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1998, and was the first film played in Canada Perspectives at the Toronto International Film Festival. Afterwards, Lions Gate Entertainment obtained distribution rights in the United States.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Sandra Oh received positive reviews for her performance and won the Genie Award for Best Actress.

The film received positive reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes measuring an 84% approval rating of 49 reviews.[9] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, noting fears of Y2K were prominent when he was writing in December 1999, but Last Night's apocalypse "paints a picture more bittersweet than violent." He found "moments of startling poignancy" in the last two-thirds of the film.[10] Stephen Holden of The New York Times called the film "a smart, stiff-upper-lip alternative to a movie like Armageddon," and said McKellar and Sandra Oh give "intense performances," but expected more panic in the case of the apocalypse.[11] Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, calling it "a surreal, elegantly melancholy, and yet witty ensemble story" and Oh a "scene-stealer."[12] Peter Howell of the Toronto Star commented on the many Canadian cast members, suggesting the film is "too damn Canuck for its own good," and a riot scene would help.[13] Outside North America, critics favoured the film as "the perfect antidote" to U.S. apocalyptic films, with a U.K. critic adding "Only in Canada can you get away with a film like this."[14] Time Out called the film "a witty, perceptive movie, exceptionally well structured."[5]

In 2002, readers of Playback magazine voted Last Night the ninth greatest Canadian film of all-time.[15] In 2012, Oliver Lyttelton of IndieWire named it one of five "underseen" apocalypse films worth seeing, writing it compared well to Armageddon and Deep Impact (1998) for "its quiet, character driven approach," and that it was likely the inspiration for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).[16] In 2014, Colin McNeil of Metro News wrote "Last Night is perhaps the most upbeat end-of-the-world movie you’ll ever see."[17]

Accolades[edit]

McKellar won the "Award of the Youth" at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Canadian First Feature Film at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival for Last Night. The film also won three Genie Awards, where McKellar was effectively competing against himself as a screenwriter of both Last Night and The Red Violin.[18]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Canadian Comedy Awards Film Directing Don McKellar Won [19]
Film Writing Don McKellar Nominated
Film Performace- Male Callum Keith Rennie Nominated
Film Performace- Female Tracy Wright Nominated
Cannes Film Festival Award of the Youth Don McKellar Won [3]
Genie Awards Best Motion Picture Daniel Iron and Niv Fichman Nominated [18]
Best Direction Don McKellar Nominated
Best Actress Sandra Oh Won
Best Supporting Actor Callum Keith Rennie Won
Best Supporting Actress Geneviève Bujold Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Roberta Maxwell Nominated
Best Screenplay Don McKellar Nominated
Best Art Direction John Dondertman and Patricia Cuccia Nominated
Best Cinematography Douglas Koch Nominated
Best Editing Reginald Harkema Nominated
Best Sound John J. Thomson, Dean Giammarco, Miguel Nunes and Paul A. Sharpe Nominated
Best Original Score Alex Pauk and Alexina Louie Nominated
Claude Jutra Award Don McKellar Won
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Canadian Film Don McKellar Won [20]
Toronto International Film Festival Best Canadian First Feature Film Don McKellar Won [21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Pam Swedko, "On set with Don McKeller's Last Night." Playback. 3 November 1997, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Last Night (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Yoram Allon, Del Cullen, Hannah Patterson, Contemporary North American Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide, Wallflower Press, 2002, p. 367.
  4. ^ a b c Joshua Ostroff, "Just the Beginning," Canoe.ca, 23 October 1998, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b G.A., "Last Night," Time Out, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Dave Ratzlow, "INTERVIEW: 'Last Night,' Don McKellar’s Intimate Armageddon," IndieWire, 8 November 1999, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  7. ^ Jonathan Romney, "Cheer up - we're all about to die," The Guardian, 24 June 1999, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  8. ^ Susan G. Cole, Glenn Sumi, Norman Wilner, John Semley, "TOP 25 TORONTO FILMS," Now, 31 December 2013, URL accessed 15 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Last Night (1998)," Rotten Tomatoes, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  10. ^ Roger Ebert, "Last Night," Rogerebert.com, 24 December 1999, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  11. ^ Stephen Holden, "Stranded in the City. On Doomsday to Boot," The New York Times, 5 November 1999, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Last Night," Entertainment Weekly, 5 November 1999, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  13. ^ Andre Loiselle, "The Radically Moderate Canadian: Don McKellar's Cinematic Persona," North of Everything: English-Canadian Cinema Since 1980, The University of Alberta Press, 2002, p. 263.
  14. ^ George Melnyk, One Hundred Years of Canadian Cinema, University of Toronto Press, 2004, p. 217.
  15. ^ Canada’s all-time best movies list. Playback. Retrieved March 03, 2014
  16. ^ Oliver Lyttelton, "5 Underseen Apocalypse Movies To Accompany ‘Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World’," IndieWire, 22 June 2012, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  17. ^ Colin McNeil, "Last Night: A very Canadian apocalypse movie," Metro News, 15 July 2014, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  18. ^ a b Bruce Kirkland, "McKellar vs. McKellar," Canoe.ca, 8 December 1998, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  19. ^ Brendan Kelly, "McKellar tops comedy noms," Variety, 7 March 2000, URL accessed 18 August 2016.
  20. ^ "ROGERS BEST CANADIAN FILM AWARD," Toronto Film Critics Association, URL accessed 13 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Awards," Toronto International Film Festival, URL accessed 13 August 2016.

External links[edit]