Film: Last Orders

Last Orders is a 2001 British drama film written and directed by Fred Schepisi. The screenplay is based on the 1996 Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Graham Swift.

The film follows Ray (Bob Hoskins), Lenny (David Hemmings) and Vic (Tom Courtenay), as they travel to Margate to scatter the ashes of their friend, Jack Dodds (Michael Caine). Jack's son, Vince (Ray Winstone), accompanies them.

Finally, Jack's wife Amy (Helen Mirren), who forgoes the trip to visit her daughter, is also a major character, albeit one with a somewhat separate storyline.

This film contains examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: Through flashbacks, the story jumps around all the way from 1939 to 1989. Flashbacks are seen from the perspectives of all the main characters, excluding Jack. To complicate matters even further, sometimes flashbacks-within-flashbacks occur, by way of one character relaying a memory to another one.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Averted with Amy and Ray. The film avoids making any part of Amy's situation feel black and white, at any point. Despite the rift that Jack's neglect of June causes between him and Amy, Jack is never made out to be a completely unsympathetic character, and it's made clear that she still cares about him very much.
  • Maybe Ever After:It's not made explicitly clear what will happen post-movie, but Ray and Amy's plan to travel to Australia could be interpreted as this trope.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Jack's last wish is what establishes the plot.
  • Posthumous Character: Jack. His relationships with the film's five lead characters are explored in depth, across five decades, using flashbacks.
  • Road Trip Plot: A very serious variant of this. Unlike most Road Trip Plots, the characters aren't there to have fun. They're there to carry out the last wishes of a dead loved one.