Since my last “Oh, Canada!” column mentioned the country’s strangely small acting pool (or acting puddle, really), I figured now was the perfect time to write up the very-popular-in-Canada/unknown-in-the-US film, Last Night, which stars and was written and directed by Don McKellar, of last week’s Slings and Arrows, as well as Sarah Polley, Slings and Arrows almuna and Canadian superstar, and Sandra Oh, who was born in Ontario and had a big career in Canada pre-Grey’s Anatomy. There’s even Callum Keith Rennie from Battlestar Galactica (which, being a show made by the Vancouver-based SyFy Channel, had a cast so Canadian they could’ve doubled as a hockey team), as well as director David Cronenberg in a rare appearance before the camera (but still making with the weird).
The movie is set in Toronto and is about the last night on earth, and since the film was made in 1998, that night is New Year’s Eve, 2000. When Seeking A Friend for the End of the World came out last year, I’m sure a lot of Canadians were (covertly) rolling their eyes, especially since Last Night is such a superior film. (Admittedly, my main beef with Seeking A Friend was the involvement of an adorable dog, since I spent most of the movie worrying about him, if he was OK when off-camera, why they’d leave him in the car instead of take him with them to the beach to play since dogs love the beach, if they were really leaving him alone on the couch and not letting him lie on the bed while the earth ended because what the hell, etc. I realize this is insane.)
The story centers around Patrick (McKellar), a recent widow, and Sandra (Oh), a woman with a mysterious suitcase who’s just trying to get home to her husband, and the ways they're connected to other minor characters, all of whom are just trying to make sense of their final hours. There are mentions of the obvious—religious rituals, riots—but the movie focuses mostly on the smaller moments, like a woman paralyzed with fear, sitting with her bratty daughter on a city bus that’s never going to move, or a group of people randomly gathering around a car and needlessly destroying it.
I’m not sure why the movie didn’t catch on here (I don’t remember it even being released), perhaps because it was low-key. There are, in fact, moments of unbridled sex and violence, but mostly, the story is quieter and more intimate, which, in many ways, seems more accurate; Patrick begins the movie hoping to die by himself, and by the end/The End, he might be the one person who manages not to die alone.