Best of
lMovie Review
"Last Orders"
By Mira Harber

   Last Orders are what Jack (Michael Caine) has left to his drinking buddies - he wants his pals to have a pint on him and his ashes thrown to the winds at Margate, a British seaside resort.  His drinking buddies and widowed wife Amy (Helen Mirren), are a who's-who of British acting - Tom Courtenay is Vic the undertaker, Bob Hoskins is the gambling man Ray, and David Hemmings is Lenny, a former boxer, now pudgy green-grocer. This is a stellar cast, but no one actor is the 'star' - in fact, Last Orders recently won the British equivalent of an Oscar for best ensemble acting. This is what great acting is all about - rich, textured, and even with this powerhouse team, subtle. This isn't the kind of movie that hits you on the head, rather, it kind of sneaks up on you, and you find yourself thinking about it a week later. Fred Schepisi wrote and directed Last Orders based on the novel by Graham Swift.
    The voyage to Margate starts as Jack's drinking buddies and his son Vince, now a car dealer (Ray Winstone) meet at their favorite pub, 'have one for Jack' and begin their voyage to Margate. Through a series of flashbacks we see how they met, became lifelong pals and learn of some secrets that started a lifetime ago. 
    Jack and Ray met in the trenches during the war, and we see more than a trace of the man in the boys they once were. We discover why there is such an antipathy between Lenny and Vince. 
    Jack's wife Amy doesn't join them, and we discover that Margate is where Jack and Amy met and fell in love 50 years earlier. They had a daughter, June, who Amy has visited weekly for all these many, many years. She is so severely retarded that she has never once given any indication that she knows who Amy, her mother, is. Jack prefers not to think of her at all. How can two people be married for so long, share such a burden, be so different in how they respond to tragedy, and yet stay in-love, and married for all these many years?
    Some viewers may have a moments challenge with the Cockney accent of the actors, but don't let that worry you, after a few moments, you won't even notice it - and the Cockney accent is an integral part of these wonderful characters.
    This could have been a maudlin and predictable film given the subject matter, but the actors take the film far beyond the average movie-going experience. If you want a movie that 'sticks to your ribs' Last Orders is for you.


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