Last Night
How Canadians face the end of the world

What would you do for the last six hours before the world ended? Have sex? If you're one of Don McKellar's pals you would. "It's funny, when I first talked about this with friends, the first thing that came up was sex," says the Canadian movie man. "It's a great theory that we could end the world with one mutual orgasm, but there's a lot of practical complications with that."

See also...
... by Emily Zuzik
... in the Dirt section
... from November 3, 1999

Instead of a global orgy, McKellar brings us Last Night: a black comedy that explores impending global destruction by following a group of Toronto residents through their final 360 minutes. The movie, which finds McKellar pulling triple duty as writer, actor, and first-time feature film director, began as a commissioned project for a series of 10 films from 10 countries about the turn of the millennium. "They were all supposed to be set on December 31, 1999, and actually, I didn't get the rules quite right there," he admits.

Last Night's intertwining plots include a woman who wants to commit double suicide with her husband, a man who plans to fuck every kind of partner (including his old French teacher) in nearly every way possible, and a stoic gas company executive who calls every customer to assure their service will be uninterrupted up to the end.

But if you're waiting to learn how the world fades to black, don't turn to Last Night for answers. "I didn't want audiences to think 'Is this possible?' or 'Where's Bruce Willis?'" McKellar explains. "I'm sure he's out there and doing his job, but I didn't want people to be focusing on that. It's a more interesting brand of character who comes to terms with it. I'd like to think there's some ordinary heroism in that."

So there's no A-list action hero on the marquee, but McKellar did pull together a star-packed Canadian cast to tell his tale, including Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go, and Guinevere), Callum Keith Rennie (eXistenZ), Geneviève Bujold (The House of Yes), and David Cronenberg.

"I always found [David] to be intriguing and charismatic. He's got this very polished demeanor, but there's something else going on," McKellar says of the director, with whom he'd worked on both his short film Blue and Cronenberg's eXistenZ. "For this part [the gas company executive], I thought the character was the most plain and the most insane, and felt that he would be the perfect person to pull that off."

Besides working with Cronenberg (who he calls the "godfather of Canadian film in Toronto"), McKellar has collaborated with other respected directors from north of the border, including Bruce McDonald (co-writing/acting in Highway 61) and François Girard (co-writing 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould and The Red Violin). But despite the competition, McKellar isn't particularly worried about being elbowed out of the "Toronto Mafia."

"It may be sort of cliquish on the outside, but it's a very supportive group of people and a very luxurious place to make movies," he says. "We're all kind of friends."

So what does the winner of Canne's 1998 Prix de Jeunesse, the 1998 Toronto Film Festival award and Claude Jutra Award for best first feature wish for the U.S. release of Last Night?

"Acclaim and adoration," laughs McKellar. "Actually, I don't care if it's a box office hit, but I would be very pleased if the cool people like it."

Last Night opens in select cities on November 5th.

Emily Zuzik is a San Francisco rock star who has aspirations of writing. Her articles have appeared in Salon, Paper, POV, Maxi, and Nylon magazines.