There was something about living through the beginning of the pandemic in Toronto that reminded me of Last Night. Visually, it was seeing semi-vacant streets that were previously teeming with people, but it was also the feeling that we’re all going through a life changing event together.
In the film, the life changing event is the end of the world. The film plays out over the final day; everyone has known for months the exact hour at which the world will end. They’ve chosen how they want to spend their final moments: some are partying and rolling streetcars, others are forming prayer circles to bless the souls of humankind, while others are killing people for kicks. But most of the people we meet in Last Night have more personal, low-key plans.
Don McKellar plays Patrick, a relatable though somewhat annoying character whose neuroses and personal tragedy lead him to choose to spend the final hours of the last day alone (after placating his family with a “Christmas” dinner). But his plans change when Sandra (Sandra Oh) shows up on his doorstep looking for help to get home to her husband (David Cronenberg).
The film was conceived as part of a series of end-of-millennium films commissioned by French film company Hout et Court. McKellar’s was the Canadian entry — others include Hal Hartley’s The Book of Life (USA) and Ming-liang Tsai’s The Hole (Taiwan) — and the film’s calm, earnest and funny approach to the apocalypse represents us well.
The most hilarious satire of how Anglo-Canadian’s mark occasions is the moment when a newscaster mentions that 600 “would be rockers” joined with Randy Bachman for a guitar jam. Whether that’s your nightmare or dream way to spend the end of the world is a very Canadian decision.