Comic road movie mixes tenderness and farce

Comic road movie mixes tenderness and farce The Last Right (2019), Michiel Huisman, Entertainment One UK Photo: My Movie My Life
TheLast Right(15A)

A Clonakilty man living in Boston transports the body of a man he only met for a few minutes to his final resting place in Rathlin Island with the police on his tail for corpse-snatching.

It’s the kind of situation most of us find ourselves in sooner or later, right?

Writer/director Aoife Crehan moves seamlessly from road movie to black comedy to rite of passage parable with some relish in a film that almost tips into farce (the chip shop stand-off) before becoming a tale of friendship, responsibility, making the right choices, atoning for the past and finding one’s own best ‘resting place’ this side of the great beyond.

Daniel Murphy is flying home to Ireland to bury his mother when the man in the seat beside him (Jim Norton) drops dead. For reasons best known to himself he names Daniel as his next of kin.

The film now segues into a comedy of errors and a (sort-of) love story,  with a helter skelter set of unpredictable interludes thrown in for good measure.

Rainman and Bonnie and Clyde are namechecked but as we move from picaresque sitcom to some  deeper areas we should probably be thinking more of films like Waking Ned and Manchester by the Sea for a trope source.

Daniel’s brother, Louis, is autistic. When he speaks – like a computer spewing out data – the parallels to Rainman become more obvious. But there’s a backstory to Louis. It gives the film its biggest surprise. His troubled relationship to Daniel (guilt, diaspora, etc.) underscores the plot.

The performances are excellent. Michiel Huisman is Daniel, the reluctant journeyman. Niamh Algar plays Mary, the quirky lass who invites herself along for the ride. Samuel Bottomley is Louis, the troubled teenager who’d prefer to stay in ‘Clon’ than study mathematics in Boston with Daniel.

Some years ago a man called Tony Hawks wrote a very funny book called Round Ireland with a Fridge. It was exactly what the title said. The journey became of national interest. Gerry Ryan even got in on it. This is like Around Ireland with a Coffin. It’s no less funny. Joe Duffy stands in for the late Gerry.

Crehan treads a fine line between comedy and drama (I believe the term is ‘dramedy’) in a film that has, however, some confusion in its unfolding. Huisman tells Norton he grew up in Boston, for instance, but he didn’t. Why the lie?

Brian Cox plays the priest who officiates at the funeral. The fact that he can range effortlessly from Winston Churchill (Churchill) to this is a testament to his versatility.

Eleanor O’Brien is the rookie cop thrown in at the deep end, wearing a uniform about three sizes too big for her.

You hardly need to be told who turns up as her boss. Yes, inevitably it’s Colm Meaney doing yet another Ballymagash style role. Begob and begorrah.

Advisory content for parents: language and sexual material.

Very Good