A remarkably combustible mixture of stomach-rippling dread, beautiful empty vistas, and an intimate tale of a father and son, Glendyn Ivin's Last Ride creates a distinctive mood from its first frame.
Hugo Weaving stars as the father, Kev, who is always on alert and prone to violent outbursts of anger. Tom Russell plays his son, Chook, with a guarded sense that all is not quite right about the situation. The two are clearly on the run from something bad that happened recently, desperate to travel across the country to Adelaide, where, perhaps, something better awaits.
The film played the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009, which is when Todd Brown filed his review:
Last Ride is a crime movie completely unconcerned with the crime itself, both of them focused entirely on what comes next. With his gorgeously realized road movie, Ivin takes us through Austalia's back ways, capturing the intricate relationship between this man and his son with remarkable intimacy.
As Kev, Hugo Weaving gives what may very well be the best performance of his career. Weaving plays Kev as a deeply flawed man, one who is struggling to hold on to the last meaningful thing in his life. He is not at all oblivious to the damage he could be doing his son on this trip but is, instead, so desperate to believe that he can leave the past behind and start fresh that he willfully ignores the possible consequences. Prone to sudden bursts of violence it is, nevertheless, perfectly clear that Kev loves his son deeply and wants nothing more than to find a way out. As Chook, first time actor Tom Russell is an absolute revelation, the young actor taking to the camera in general and this role in particular as if he were born to them. Last Ride is arguably Chook's film even more than Kev's, with the pair of them occupying every single scene, and Russell is more than up to the task, delivering a natural, effortless performance that is sure to draw attention and praise around the globe.
Shot and edited with a sense of beauty and grace that serves as a potent counter to the underlying content of the film, Last Ride is a rhythmic, engrossing and deeply affecting film.
What struck me, especially, is that the film is essentially a character study that is played out against an incredibly varied and wonderfully unusual landscapes. It's stereotypical to say that Australian filmmakers have a special kinship with nature, but the reason the stereotype was established decades ago is because of films like this, in which the characters are matched perfectly with landscapes that evoke epic emotions.
The picture quality on the Region 1 DVD from Music Box Films looks excellent, reproducing the gorgeous visuals with the splendor they deserve. The audio gives good boom when needed, and highlights the evocative musical score by Paul Charlier.
The handcrafted package of extras is strong, especially the two short films by Ivins; one features a young lead and the other ventures into rural territory. Both pack an unexpected punch.
The film is highly recommended. You can order the DVD via our affiliate link to Amazon, below, which brings a few pennies to us. The official release date is Tuesday, October 16.