Rotterdam 2023 Review: ONE LAST EVENING Ponders The Value Of Relationships

Lukas Nathrat's debut feature is a fun and interesting ensemble drama with strong acting.

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
Rotterdam 2023 Review: ONE LAST EVENING Ponders The Value Of Relationships
German director Lukas Nathrat had made several award-winning shorts in the past, but he made the jump to feature film during that most inopportune of times: the Summer of 2020, when Europe slid into a series of lockdowns. Then again, what's inopportune: with everyone out of regular work, getting a cast and crew to participate in a low-budget chamber piece for a week might have been a lot more difficult if everybody had a full agenda.

But the end result does not look forced by circumstance or feel cheap at all. Tightly directed, well acted and with a witty script, One Last Evening turned out to be one of the most popular films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

IFFR2023-onelastevening-ext1.jpegWe follow Clemens and Lisa, a couple who are preparing a farewell dinner for friends during their last evening in Hanover. Nearly everything they own is in boxes, the next day they will move to Berlin, so the plan is to have one big blow-out party and disappear. Moving house and preparing a party are both stressful things though, even when everything goes right. Of course, things go wrong here: friends cancel their visit at the last moment, people who do show up bring their problems with them and a few strangers turn into unexpected guests.
Still, everyone puts up their best face and tries to make the best of it. And as the evening goes on, unexpected friendships do surface. But so do some long-festering anxieties, resentments and regrets...

So far, so normal. It would be a boring drama if everything went exactly as planned, right? But as common as the idea is, the devil is in the details, and the execution here elevates the film to a very high level. We as the audience may not be shocked, but we can still marvel. And One Last Evening does make you feel as if you're a fly on the wall. Scenes switch between funny and moody without feeling staged, each laugh and cringe is earned, and in the end you get the impression you did spend time with these people and understood most of them.

In One Last Evening, director Nathrat doesn't re-invent the wheel, but he gives it a decent spin and allows all his actors to show their strengths. It makes for very pleasant viewing. The paying public in Rotterdam thought so as well, and awarded the film a rating of 4.6 out of 5, making it the number seven in the festival audiences' best film listing.

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