out of five
: 108 mins
Fred Schepisi’s latest film is based on Graham Swift’s Booker prize-winning novel and has a great cast, but is ultimately rather slow moving and dull.
There’s no doubt about it, director Fred Schepisi has assembled a stellar cast for his latest film, an adaptation of Graham Swift’s
Booker-prize-winning novel Last Orders, about a group of ordinary
sixty-something men getting together to scatter the ashes of one of their friends (Michael Caine).
However, despite the undeniable appeal of seeing Hoskins, Caine, Mirren et al sharing screen-time again, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the film is very slow and occasionally, unforgivably, rather dull.
The majority of the film concerns the friends reminiscing about the events of their lives as they travel from Bermondsey down to Margate to scatter Caine’s ashes. In the book, this works extremely well, as each character is seen from multiple viewpoints as the chapters progress.
Here, however, we have an ambitious series of multiple flashbacks (some only lasting a few seconds) that are occasionally confusing and in which, it has to be said, not an awful lot happens. It also doesn’t help that, occasionally, the actors playing the younger versions of the characters are simply not up to the job.
For the most part, the acting from the main characters is, as you’d expect, excellent, with Caine the standout and Winstone a close second. However, David Hemmings is a little too convincing as an alcoholic and is, in any case, frequently in danger of being out-acted by his own eye-brows, which look as if they’re about to fly away at any moment.
It is, of course, great to see Caine, Hoskins and Mirren onscreen again, but the fact that you can’t help but be reminded of Mona Lisa and The Long Good Friday only serves to point up just how little there is in the way of anything really happening here.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few enjoyable moments scattered here and there, with the group’s drunken pub rendition of Roy Orbison’s Blue Bayou the definite highlight. However, though the cast are always watchable, the film as a whole is too slow and flat to really grab you, though it’s entirely possible the film will mean more to older generations.