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Film / Last Night

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Last Night is a 1998 Canadian comedy-drama directed by Don Mckellar.

The film details how a handful of characters decide to spend the final hours of existence in Toronto. The film won several awards, including Genie Awards for Don Mckellar (Best First-time Canadian Director), Sandra Oh (Best Leading Actress), and Callum Keith Rennie (Best Supporting Actor). The film was also cited by Edgar Wright as one of his influences in making Shaun of the Dead.

No relation to Silent Night (2021), despite having a similar title and premise.

This film contains examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: Class 5, for argument's sake (though speculation that the world-ending event is a supernova might put it in class X-2). The how and why are never quite explained, but it's an event that has been known for around two months.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Played with. Sandra got married and pregnant during the two-month window where everyone is aware that the world is about to end. Since people have to live with the consequences of large decisions for just two months, such choices often have wishful intentions but are essentially meaningless.
  • Because I Said So: The radio DJ isn't even trying to stick with the playlist.
    Radio DJ: We've reached number twelve on the top 500 of all time, according, alright? So don't bother calling in. This time, it's my choice.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sandra and her husband were of this belief, although it was more in the form of "it's better to kill and be killed by someone you love right before your moment of impending death than to have your life taken from you through passionless circumstance". She tries to fall in love with Patrick and get him to indulge her wish with her when it becomes apparent that her husband isn't coming home. In the end, through a combination of her own despair, Patrick's obvious attraction to and sympathy for her, the impending destruction of the planet and her ultimate bloody-minded refusal to give up hope in the ending that she wanted, she succeeds in falling in love with Patrick just seconds before the world ends, although this trope is subverted in that they don't end up shooting each other: they drop their guns and kiss passionately.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Holy cow. Duncan is shot dead and is never reunited with Sandra. Donna not only loses her virginity to Craig but has a mutual orgasm with him, which means he gets to cross off two fantasies in one go. Patrick doesn't get to spend the last night on his own doing whatever he wants, but on the other hand he falls in love with Sandra and finally connects with someone else for the first time since the death of his lover Karen. Sandra connects with Patrick so strongly that she falls in love with him and abandons her plan to kill herself at the exact moment the world comes to an end.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    Patrick: [as he leaves Craig's apartment] See you.
    Craig: No, you won't.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Patrick's sister and her boyfriend mostly disappear after the pretend Christmas Party Patrick's family holds that morning, but show up later in the film to save Sandra from a crazy rioter.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Craig wants to live out every sexual fantasy he's ever had, but damn if he's not going to be gentlemanly about it.
    Craig: What I was trying to say out there is that you're very beautiful. And I knew that before. I just want you to know that I'm not doing this because you're black.
    Lily: Yes, you are. You don't have to lie.
    Craig: ...Yeah. So, uh, before we get started, uh, there's a couple of things I'd like to try. Uh, nothing too weird, I think you'll agree. But, um, you know, if there's anything you had in mind...
    Lily: Yes...
    Craig: Uh, maybe you could tell me before so we can fit it in.
    Lily: Hey. Don't worry. You'll be just fine. I just wanted to have an orgasm today.
  • Cue the Sun: Subverted in that the inexplicably bright sun gets ominously larger and brighter as the night progresses.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Completely inverted. The death of the world takes place in light.
  • Endless Daytime: Most of the film takes place at night when it should be dark during any time of the year, but it's always daytime and the sky is always blindingly bright. It's implied, but never outright stated, that it's actually some solar phenomenon that ends the world.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Most of the characters.
    • The last thing Duncan says to a gun-wielding man is that he isn't afraid of him.
    • Patrick and Sandra hug each other as the world ends.
    • Patrick's sister and her boyfriend sit with a crowd in the square, counting down like it's New Year's.
    • Craig and Patrick's friend Menzies hijacks a concert hall and is giving a piano recital as the light sweeps over the city.
    • Patrick's parents, grandmother and Rose are all sitting down at the dinner table and praying in their last scene.
  • Happier Home Movie: Patrick and Jenny's grandmother spends some of the last hours before The End of the World as We Know It watching home videos of her family (and a hyper, presumably long-dead dog) at Christmas celebrations and birthday parties.
  • Ghost City: Despite everyone still being alive, almost all public services have stopped running. Somewhat justified in that if it's the last day you're ever going to be alive, why would you go in to work?
    • Averted with Duncan, David Cronenberg's character, who is a senior manager in the gas company and who is spending the last day leaving answering machine messages to all his customers, thanking them for their custom over the years and promising to keep the gas running until the last possible moment.
  • Just Before the End: It's all in the title—the last night before life on Earth ends.
  • Last Kiss: And also a First Kiss.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Light Is Not Good: A very literal example. Something about the light is suggested to be the thing that brings about the end of the world.
  • Mexican Standoff: One of the few examples that also doubles as a Tear Jerker. Subverted in that they can't bring themselves to go through with it, and kiss as the world ends.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Played heartbreakingly straight with Sandra and Patrick. Sandra has just realised that her husband, who she's spent the entire film trying to get to, is probably dead, and that Patrick, who she has been accidentally encountering throughout the film, is probably the last person she will ever meet, on the last day ever. Patrick, for his part, has been quietly falling in love with her ever since he met her.
    Sandra: Patrick, I have to ask you a question. Feel free to say no -
    Patrick: Yes.
    Sandra: Yes what.
    Patrick: Yes, you can stay. You can spend the night, until the end. I mean, even if he was there, your husband, you wouldn't make it home in time, it's past eleven, and - and anyway, I want you to stay. I've been thinking about it, and it's not an imposition. It's not like I want to have sex with you, but I do feel, I like you. We made a...a connection. I want us to be together.
    Sandra: [pause, on the verge of tears] I want you to shoot me.
    Patrick: [pause] ...Oh. So that was the question.
  • Think of the Children!: Patrick's Grandmother tries to invoke this, but is rebutted by Rose with the memorable line:
    "I don't give a damn. People are always saying 'The children. Pity the children'. I'm tired of the children. They haven't lived, given birth, watched their friends die. I have invested 80 years in this life. The children don't know what they're missing."
  • Out with a Bang: Craig's last day plans are to indulge in all of his previously unfulfilled sexual fantasies.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Overlaps with Last Kiss. Both the world and the film end with the main characters kissing.
  • Situational Sexuality: Craig is desperate to have sex with as many different kinds of people as he can, before the world ends. He's been at it for two months, but just during the course of the film he has sex with his former high school teacher (played by Genevieve Bujold), a young black woman, and a virgin.note  However, when he awkwardly attempts to come on to Patrick, Patrick draws the line, although not on the grounds that he finds the whole idea repellent; just because he hasn't had time to get used to the idea, and he doesn't want to spend his last day on earth having bad sex.
  • Stepford Smiler: Patrick's sister Jenny spends most of the movie cheerfully acting like a party is going on rather than The End of the World as We Know It. However, there are some signs that she's not as tranquil as she seems. Most notably, she nervously closes her eyes as the ominous wave of light heads toward her and her friends, although she otherwise remains composed.
  • Virgin Tension: Inverted with Donna. She is a virgin and desperately doesn't want to be one; Craig has had nearly every kind of sex you can have, but he's never had sex with a virgin. They finally meet.