Last Night (1998)

Rating: B+

Dir: Don McKellar
Star: Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley, Callum Keith Rennie

Pop quiz. The world ends in six hours: what do you do? That’s the premise behind this Canadian film (David Cronenberg and Genevieve Bujold appear in effective supporting roles) which posits an impending, unspecified cataclysm, with enough warning that most people have gone through the emotional cycle and have reached acceptance of their fate. However, their plans for meeting it vary: family, music, sex, work and suicide are all among the options. McKellar not only directs, he’s the centre of a group of people whose plans overlap and interact.

This breadth inevitably means some stories are more successful than others, and the film is at its best when McKellar narrows the focus down. He also starts off heavily angled towards black comedy, but this element gradually fades, to be replaced by genuine feeling for these characters — when the humour briefly reappears towards the end, it’s almost a sour note. Terribly reminiscent of Miracle Mile, while not quite as harrowing, you may still feel in need of a big hug afterwards. Trust the Canadians to make a film about the apocalypse which is gratifyingly more than an excuse for whizz-bang effects.