THE LAST BUS: A JOURNEY OF REMEMBRANCE
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in love am I:
And I will love thee still, my dear, Till all the seas gang dry.
--Robert Burns, from "A Red, Red Rose"
Tom wants to go to Land's End, Cornwall, England from northern Scotland (John o' Groats) via bus. He's packed his essentials in a large briefcase, planned his stops and made no fuss about his adventure.
In The Last Bus, as any road trip movie underscores, much of Tom's journey has hiccups. Despite the dangers, obstacles, he encounters, however, he's determined to return to he met and for a time lived with his late wife, Mary (Phyllis Logan).
Veteran actor Timothy Spall portrays Tom whose surprising layers--humor, insight and ingenuity--emerge along with some naivete. Encounters with strangers along the way are juxtaposed with memories of his marriage to Mary. Among the sketchy reminiscences, Tom recalls painful and joyful moments. So determined to reach his destination, he often forgets he's a vulnerable, infirmed, elderly man that others might take advantage. Still, he forges ahead, briefly befriending many adults and children who sense his gentle nature.
Had Writer Joe Ainsworth inserted more background, laughter and exposition, the film may have had more to extoll. In any case, Timothy Spall's performance, as well as the supporting players, transcend the often-weak material. Director Gillies MacKinnon's sensitivity toward the material becomes apparent from the start, but the inertia of the first third of the movie soon sputters and loses momentum.
Visually stunning, The Last Bus, provides a platform for Spall to demonstrate his well-known talent as a character actor. Less bombastic than some of his characters, Tom walks quietly, stumbles and falls, then resumes his journey. An example much-needed these days.
Unrated. Dramatic moments, including terminal illness, attempted robbery and injuries.
Opening in theaters and VOD on February 18th.
Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com
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