|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
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.