Finally a London-shot film that doesn't feature gangsters, stolen money, and hard drugs
one would think that's all that happens in the capital. Last Orders doesn't portray London as a more pleasant or beautiful place, it just shows it how it is. The movie's emphasis is more on personality, the ordinary stories of ordinary people, those that, when told with poise and charm, are so much more interesting and we find they are, in fact, extraordinary .
The film is an adaptation of Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel and switches fluidly between the past and present. Michael Caine is Jack Dodds, a butcher and regular barstool warmer down the Coach & Horses. Jack has died and his three mates and son Vince (played by Ray Winstone) set off to complete his dying request - that his ashes be scattered off Margate Pier.
Jack's whole life and character emerge throughout the film, as do the lives of his three friends (Courtney, Hoskins and Hemmings), Vince and his wife Amy (Helen Mirren). We see the ups and downs and the paths taken to get them all where they are today, although the period of only one day passes in the present.
Fred Schepisi returns to the clever character-driven script that earned him his reputation in 1993's Six Degrees of Separation, and the unforgettable Roxanne with Steve Martin. An Australian directing a bunch of South Londoners might seem quite odd but, as Helen Mirren remarked, it's the kind of film that needed someone removed from the place to really get a clear view and a fresh take.
Last Orders had me laughing heartily and crying like I haven't cried in a film for a very long time. The whole cast puts in a wonderful performance, but Helen Mirren especially shines as the dutiful but disregarded Amy. This is a film whose memory will stay with me a long while.