Last Orders

Last Orders

A dream cast of England's finest (Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings, and Ray Winstone) is assembled for this very British merchant-class drama about a tight-knit group of old farts who gather together after one of their own (Caine) dies, and embark on a road trip to deliver his ashes to the seaside town of Margate.

Along their journey, they each flash back to key scenes throughout their various pasts, from the 1940s to the 1980s (it's not made explicit in the film, but I believe the "present day" of the story is around 1989). The various disappointments and minor triumphs of these ordinary lives are handled with typical English resignation. ("Ah well. 'Ere's to 'im anyway.")

It's a pleasure to see these fine actors play off each other, especially Hoskins and Mirren. My only quibble is that the story doesn't give Hemmings' or Courtenay's characters much dramatic reason to exist. They're just kind of there, and their motivations are ill-defined. It's a minor issue, though.

Slow-moving and episodic, Last Orders may not appeal to many people besides the British - and the Anglophiles that love them - but it asks from you nothing more than to sit back and enjoy some fine acting and some well-etched, wistful characters.