Last Orders

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(2001) ★★★★

BBC2: Saturday 8 August, 11.55pm

Lifelong friends at the Coach & Horses comply with the last wishes of Bermondsey butcher Michael Caine – to take his ashes to Margate. The funny-sad car trip – Caine’s cocky salesman son Ray Winstone is driving one of his showroom’s Mercedes; dad, who served in WWII, would’ve loved that – is a deeply touching celebration of friendship. The casting is perfect – like Caine, Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings and Tom Courtenay are all adept at conveying deep feelings without speaking. This felicitous casting extends to the flashback sequences with their younger incarnations. Women are secondary in this unpatronising look at working class lives well lived, though Helen Mirren brings restraint and dignity to the role of Caine’s widow. There are many memorable moments – especially at Canterbury and on the wintry seafront at dear old Margate (made to seem so horrible in Pawel Pawlikowski’s Last Resort) – and talented Australian film-maker Fred Schepisi brings an unsentimental eye to locations lovingly preserved in widescreen. But it’s the acting that’s the thing. And the script, of course. That’s by Schepisi, too, a skilful adaptation of Graham Swift’s Booker Prize winning novel. Blimey – who’d have thought a Booker book could have made such a lovely, unpretentious film?  “It was the funniest time I’ve ever spent on a film set, just wonderful,” said David Hemmings, who kept working until his death at age 62 on location in Romania at the end of 2003. Bob Hoskins, who retired from acting after contracting Parkinson’s disease in 2012, died in April 2014, age 71. His final film was Snow White and the Huntsman, although 2010’s Made in Dagenham would have been perhaps a more fitting finale. To its eternal shame, Bafta marked his passing by ignoring it.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 106min

IMDB – Last Orders

TMDB – Last Orders

Rotten Tomatoes – Last Orders

Other Showings Time & Date
BBC2 Scotland Sunday, 9 August at 1:05AM