The best way to describe “Last Orders” is to call it a buddy movie. Four men set out on a journey to fulfill the “last orders” of their lifelong friend, who has just passed away. Along this journey, each man recounts his love for the dearly departed, while realizing something about himself.
The film is an import from England and displays the talent of London’s finest troupe of actors, including Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings and Helen Mirren. Adding to the talent of the veteran ensemble is Ray Winstone, a shining newcomer who has the talent and vivaciousness to be as influential and inspiring as the veterans that have preceded him.
Michael Caine is Jack Dodds, the catalyst of the story. He has died, leaving these people with the untold secrets of his past and the fond memories that they cherish. Jack served in World War II, along with Ray (Hoskins), Lenny (Hemmings) and Vic (Courtenay). Jack’s son, Vince (Winstone), is ungrateful of his father’s love, as well as the love that Jack’s friends share. Jack’s wife, Amy (Mirren), has not only the death of her husband to deal with, but their mentally disabled daughter, who Jack could never love. Amy also has love for Ray, who she calls her own “little ray of sunshine.”
It is your typical British film, with vernacular and accents that most people cannot, or choos not ,to tolerate. If you can look past that aspect, then you are in for a wonderful journey.
The core of the film lies in the performances, especially by Hoskins. Hoskins, known for his performance in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is stellar and compelling as Lucky. Not since Hoskins’ performance in Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa,” has he been as funny, tender and compassionate.
The one scene that is completely moving is when we flash back to Ray’s visit to Jack on his deathbed. The emotion exchanged between these two actors is what is so great and moving about this film. We do not see them as actors, but as ordinary people. The love that Ray and Jack share for each other is evident.
This is a film that has cast a group of men as friends, who share friendship in real life. Director Fred Schepisi has captured that very well in his adaptation of the Graham Swift novel.
Schepisi, in a recent interview, said he was attracted to the humanity of each character. “They live ordinary lives, and I wanted to show how they suffer foibles and weaknesses during their journey,” he said.
This film will go unnoticed by most people, since it will not see a wide release and a very quick video distribution. This is sad since many do not view most quality films, whereas all the garbage is seen by everyone. “Last Orders” is a moving story about love, death, friendship and humanity, and is well worth a look.