Father and son take a road trip, with menace looming large.
Australia. 2009. 96mins. Director Glendyn Ivin Production companies Talk Films, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, South Australian Film Corporation, Adelaide Film Festival Distributors Madman (Aus), ContentFilm International +44 20 7851 6500 Producers Nicholas Cole, Antonia Barnard Screenplay Mac Gudgeon, from the novel The Last Ride by Denise Young Cinematography Greig Fraser Main cast Hugo Weaving, Tom Russell, Anita Hegh, John Brumpton, Sonya Suares
A gritty father-son road movie, Last Ride follows some of the bumpiest, least-travelled roads in Australia. With Hugo Weaving on top form as the aggressive, unpredictable father, and impressive 10-year-old newcomer Tom Russell as his at-risk son, Last Ride delivers considerable tension amid some amazing locations.
This is director Glendyn Ivin's debut feature following his delightful, self-funded Cracker Bag, which won the Palme d'Or for best short film at Cannes in 2003. Now backed by two producers, including The Quiet American's Antonia Barnard, a $2.6m budget and a major actor, Ivin spent seven weeks on a constantly moving 5,500km shoot to some very remote places, shot to maximum widescreen effect by Greig Fraser.
Last Ride starts out with ex-con Kev (Weaving) and his untamed son Chook (Russell) on the run in South Australia. At first nothing is explained: it is part of the movie's ratcheting tension that we pick up bits and pieces of the backstory as we go, and what we learn only adds to our growing discomfort.
They steal flowers from a graveyard to help Kev cajole breakfast from Maryanne (Hegh), a former lover and, we learn, a teacher at his last prison. She is not fooled by the flowers, but she cannot resist the macho Kev and easily resumes a bond with the confused Chook.
Continuing their flight, Kev and Chook break into a museum, stealing clothes and artefacts, thieve from shops and swap cars. "We're mongrels, us," says Kev, displaying increasing signs of cruelty and despair as he is visited by flashbacks of the nasty events which sparked the trek. By the time they arrive at a weirdly exotic salt lake, Chook realises fully the danger he is in. This sequence, shot on the cosmic flatness of Lake Gardner, is stunning; the small boy seems doomed in the alien vastness.
Last Ride depends greatly on the powder-keg force of Weaving's mean, troubled Kev, and the actor delivers. With little dialogue, young Russell gives Chook a rich inner life as he is forced to confront what is really best for both of them.
Powerhouse performance from Hugo Weaving with some stunning location work.
Going out in Australia on July 2, this could gain traction in the international theatrical marketplace with the right marketing support: commercially, it treads a line between 2006's Little Fish ($3.2m internationally, of which $2.7m came from Australia) or another taut tale set off Australia's beaten track, 2003's Japanese Story ($4m internationally, $2.8m of that at home).