DVD review: Last Ride (2009)

1 Dec

Brand new guest reviewer, and Melbourne based person who works in and with film, Simon Walsh takes on a drunken, vomiting Hugo Weaving, and finds the experience powerfully beautiful. Like an exploding cake.

In the opening moments of Last Ride we see a silhouetted Kev (Hugo Weaving), waiting for a truck stop diner to open. Dirty, unshaven and nervous – we can barely make out his features until he returns from the bathroom with his new look. His son, Chook (Tom Russell) comments that he ‘looks weird’, he vomits and the credits roll. Powerful with it’s layered and engrossing performances, both Glendyn Ivin (director) and Mac Gudgeon (screenwriter) have crafted a story so thematically rich that at times we feel just as coiled up as Kev as the two leads trek further into the unknown.

As the story unfolds, these heartbreaking moments seem relentless. To the point where we only assume that all the raw and defining qualities Kev illustrates to Chook have probably all happened before. Like many great stories, this is one of the immediate, one of the here and now. In the end, it’s the very act of taking his son away with all his violent urgency that leads to the growing animosity between the two.

Shot by award winning cinematographer Greig Fraser (who just completed work on the soon to be released ‘Bright Star’), one can’t help but notice the similarities in tone and look between this and the seminal work Days of Heaven shot by legendary cinematographer Nestor Almendros. With the majority of locations being exteriors and most of the sequences taking place at dawn and dusk; Fraser’s backlit characters and beautiful hand-held work only add to the urgency of Ivin’s picture.

Despite a tight budget with a minimalist crew, Last Ride remains gloriously cinematic. The iconic sequence that takes place at a waterless salt lake in central South Australia is one for the libraries. In an online blog, written during production of the feature, the director states just how grateful he was to have the opportunity to make a feature in Australia. He goes on to point out that it’s rare for any Australian director to ever make 2 features in quick succession, and as a result, he probably won’t be directing long-form drama again for some time. In the brief production period (6 weeks is unfortunately the norm in Australia due to budge considerations), Ivin obviously got the most out of his lead actors as he presents us with some of the strongest performances in recent memory.

We can only hope that having such a powerful debut feature means that Ivin might break the pattern of Australian film production – and we see more of his work in the near future.

Simon Walsh

—> Interview with the director, Glendyn Ivin, with some bizarre internet commentary underneath {here}.

DVD (Madman 2 disc) extras:

  • Audio Commentary with Glendyn Ivin (Dir), Jack Hutchings (Editor) and Greig Fraser (DoP)
  • 55-min making of Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers and Teasers
  • Rehearsal Footage
  • 48-page photo journal
  • The Desert (short film by Glendyn Ivin)
  • Cracker Bag (Short film by Glendyn Ivin that won the 2003 Palme d’Or at Cannes that year)
  • Ronan cuddles a deer in super slo mo.


One Response to “DVD review: Last Ride (2009)”

  1. Ronan Macewan December 1, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    fantastic work! Makes me like the Australia in the title of this blog, but not in a pauline hanson sort of way.

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