last orders written and directed by Fred Schepisi, from the novel by Graham Swift, produced by Schepisi and Elisabeth Robinson, with Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay and David Hemmings. 110 minutes. A Mongrel Media release. Opens Friday (March 29). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 78. Rating: NNN
last orders features a gaggle of
old British character actors. In this adaptation of Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel by director Fred Schepisi, their relationships to one another are conveyed in galloping flashbacks, some of which sprout flashbacks within flashbacks.
These are, surprisingly, never confusing.
The talented and reliable Schepisi isn't a flake like Nicolas Roeg, whose multi-layered time schemes can lead to prolonged head-scratching.
Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, Tom Courtenay and Ray Winstone take a trip to scatter the ashes of their old pal (Michael Caine) in the sea. Each of them has memories of said pal, played in the older flashbacks by pretty boy J.J. Feild, who bears no resemblance to the young Caine in his salad days.
Helen Mirren as Caine's widow has some flashbacks, too, unless those are Bob Hoskins's. There are pauses at war memorials and flashbacks to the war, and many, many pints are consumed along the way.
There are good performances all around -- which you'd expect with this much acting talent assembled in one car.
However, I've got a long memory, and Last Orders is reminiscent of Bye Bye Braverman, a movie known to diehard Sidney Lumet fans, that covered much the same territory, though in that picture what was at issue was the notion of what it meant to be a New York Jew rather than a working-class Londoner.
ALSO OPENING: DEATH TO SMOOCHY -- FESTIVAL IN CANNES -- L.I.E. -- PANIC ROOM -- TORTILLA SOUP For details, see reviews, page 78.