Last Night [1998/I]

Apocalyptic visions can take many forms, from atomic to cosmic disaster, from cautionary tale to sardonic despair, comets, asteroids, plague. But when it comes to the end of the world, one expects fire or ice, bang or whimper. Rarely does this genre focus on the area between those two extremes, as it does brilliantly in Don McKellar's Last Night, a wry tale exploring the effects of the world's imminent demise on a group of characters in Toronto. No panic ensues, no looting, no gnashing of teeth or elaborate schemes to forestall disaster. Well, that may be happening somewhere, but certainly not in Toronto. Here the radio counts down the top 500 hits of all time. The clock ticks by the evening hours while daylight fails to wane. Everywhere, people prepare for the end in ways that range from the mundane to the winsome. The principal action throws together Patrick (McKellar), a dejected young man who plans on spending the end alone listening to music, with Sandra (Sandra Oh), whose plans to spend the end with her husband (David Cronenberg) are thwarted by lack of transportation. Meanwhile, Patrick's friend Craig (Callum Keith Rennie) is fulfilling every sexual fantasy he's ever had. Love the one you're with is the message here. The real star is the tone of the picture, which is distanced and ironic and masterfully maintained throughout. Sarah Polley and Geneviève Bujold appear in supporting roles. It's the directorial debut of actor McKellar (Exotica, eXistenZ), who also scripted The Red Violin. --Jim Gay

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