"Last Night" is a superb directorial debut from Don McKellar. He has been around since 1989 in the Canadian film world, with writing credits for films such as "Roadkill" and "Highway 61", and acting appearances in numerous films including Atom Egoyan's "The Adjuster" and "Exotica". At the Cannes film festival, McKellar won an award for best film by a first-time director, an achievement that he shares with other great directors such as Martin Scorsese.
"Last Night" builds is narrative around a complex set of character relationships. At the center of all the relationships is Patrick (McKellar) and everyone else that he knows or encounters is connected to him in a very logical pattern. This gives us the impression that we are all connected at a distance, but that these relationships are tenuous.
This film is a perfect example of how Canadian film deals with issues differently than American film. "Last Night" can easily be compared to both "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact", both of which are American versions of what would occur if the world was stricken with impending doom, an apocalyptic end to our world. "Last Night" is a film that cares more about people, not the 'monster' that will put the end to our existence. We are not even aware of what it is that's bringing the world to an end. In both "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact", we know right off that asteroids are on a path to collide with earth, and this is the real focus of attention in both films, even though "Deep Impact" tries to develop a human story. The American notion seems to be that we can stop anything with technology and a few nuclear bombs. There is always a hero or group of heroes that are sent on a mission to save the day. And of course they do, and we're supposed to feel all happy and warm inside. The Canadian view appears to be more pessimistic on the surface; there is absolutely no efforts being performed to stop the 'monster' (there is no point because it is unstoppable, so me may as well just accept it), but it is clear at the end of "Last Night" that 'love' prevails, which in itself is quite optimistic.
In "Deep Impact", it is quite obvious that the family unit is important, as it is in "Last Night", but the message in "Deep Impact" seems to be that one must connect with their family or at least someone at the end, even if it means connecting with your father on a beach just before a thousand foot wave crashes by. "Last Night" allows that some individuals may want to spend time alone right up until the end. This doesn't mean that everyone is alone at the end; even Patrick who wants to spend his last hours in his apartment by himself, meets Sandra (Sandy Oh) who is desperately trying to get home to her husband, Duncan (David Cronenberg), but cannot, and spends it with her. She is the kind of person who needs to be with someone, and she needs to know that someone loves her, and has to be with that person. Without giving too much away about the relationship between Sandra and Patrick, it is interesting to see how their relationship unfolds in the critical moments.
Another character in the film appears to want to be alone at least from his family and friends. Ever since he learned of the end, he has pursuing every sexual fantasy conceivable. He has a shrine in his kitchen dedicated to his sexual fantasies. This is his way of dealing with end. In a sense, at the end he is not alone, but to the contrary he is connected to another person in the most intimate way possible with a virgin who answered to his web-page.
Thankfully, there is minimal footage of riots in the streets of Toronto. Some of this occurs, but it by no means is dominant, as I suspect it would have been in an American picture. There seems to be a stereotype that people would go crazy and riot if they were confronted with such a situation, but this is not necessarily true. Its definitely not true in "Last Night". "This is all the more reason to remain civil, it's a test", says Patrick's father, when the family gets together to celebrate Christmas.
Overall, I feel that "Last Night" succeeds in illustrating how different human beings may react differently to hearing that the world is coming to an end. It is true, everyone would act different and this film says nothing of a morally correct way or acceptable way to behave. After all, why should it? As one character states, "you may as well experience those things that you have always wanted to, while you can. It is not saying that all people will act in this fashion, but that some people will, others will spend the time by themselves, and yet others will strengthen as a family unit.
Review by Sean Rutledge from the Internet Movie Database.