Communication Inside The Human Condition: Our Review of ‘Last Call’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 05, 2019
Communication Inside The Human Condition: Our Review of ‘Last Call’

Occasionally fate demands something you didn’t expect…

Having a special screening a 1PM tomorrow at the Royal Cinema here in Toronto, Last Call is a bold piece of indie cinema that pushes against convention to make for a unique cinematic experience.  It doesn’t always work like it hopes but it pulls through thanks to an amazing performance from its leading lady.

This is a real time feature presented in split screen showcasing both ends of a wrong number phone call that has the potential to save a life. Last Call follows a suicidal alcoholic (Daved Wilkins)  on the anniversary of his son’s death. When he attempts to call a crisis hotline, a misdial connects him with a single mother (Sarah Booth) working as the night janitor at a local community college. The split screen feature showcases both characters in real-time as they navigate a life-changing conversation.

Last Call is a fascinating psychological case study and character piece that we immediately get invested in because this kind of thing simply happens far more than of us feel comfortable even admitting and we get roped into the moment genuinely feeling the events that are unfolding

While the gimmick of real time filmmaking has been used in the past;  the split screen effect here on top of it all does add a certain sense of gravitas to the story that’s about to be told but it gets leaned on a little too much at times.

Co-Writer/Director Gavin Michael Booth smartly keeps us focused on where we need to be for the most part of this experiment and even in those moments where it occasionally drifts on us; he manages to bring us back to where he needs his audience to be, but even just the occasional cut away to a full screen reaction shot would have allowed the emotion of the narrative (which is the most important part) to snap us out of the split screen which occasionally gets a little muddy.  Thankfully at a 75 minute run time for the film, we don’t lose focus nearly as much as you’d think, which is in strong part to a very natural narrative flow to the film.

The script from Booth and co-star Daved Wilkins allows for some natural twists and surprises in the story to keep us engaged along the way and it all feels fairly organic in how it plays out.  It also gives plenty of room for the actors to work and shine along the way.

Certainly Daved Wilkins is solid as our despondent father whose drinking himself to death on the other end of the phone but where this essentially two person feature film not only survives but actually thrives is in the performance of Sarah Booth.

As our heroine of the story (of sorts) Sarah Booth gives an absolute knock out of a performance as Beth; the put upon single mother who is simply trying to the best that she for those around her and as she’s quickly faced with the realities of Wilkins character she effectively ramps up the performance trying frantically to help this very desperate soul on the other end of the line.  We buy into every single second of her emotional journey and this is actually where we needed a little less split screen and a little more of her to really sell what was going on the real world humanistic stakes that are in play in situations like this.  Sarah Booth simply rips herself bare and exudes not only the passion of a mother, but of a human being trying to help another soul in need.

At the end of it all, Last Call isn’t perfect but neither is life and that’s honestly what makes it so goddamn fascinating to watch.  Stories in life and on the screen simply aren’t always going to have happy endings (be it in split or single screen), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t pick up the other end that line and experience them, because that’s what informs the human condition and it’s important that they get heard.  Last Call reminds us that the bitter in life, no matter how painful it might be can makes us appreciate the sweet and happy moments all the more and it makes me look forward to what’s next for this very talented storyteller.

It’s playing at the Royal Cinema here in downtown Toronto at 1PM, tomorrow Sunday Oct. 6th…maybe tape the football game and support some excellent independent cinema instead.

  • Release Date: 10/6/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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