The Last Bus
Gillies MacKinnon, UK, 2021o
Tom has lived for fifty years in a remote village at the northernmost point of Scotland. With his wife's ashes, the 90-year-old sets off on a long journey to Land's End near the southernmost point of England, their shared birthplace - all by public bus. He had not known modern Great Britain before, and it holds many adventures in store for him.
Grumpy old men who are jolted out of their shells by a trip or unexpected acquaintance and once again discover livable sides to their gray existence have proven to be guaranteed success with the globally growing retirement-age audience since the late Jack Nicholson hits About Schmidt, As Good as It Gets and The Bucket List. The surprise Swedish hit A Man Called Ove, its recent U.S. remake A Man Called Otto with Tom Hanks, and the current feature film The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry also rely on this formula. Or indeed The Last Bus. In the latter, British character actor Timothy Spall, known here from Mike Leigh milestones like Secrets and Lies or Mr. Turner, plays Tom, a northern English widower who travels to the south coast with the ashes of his deceased wife. Tom has taken it into his head to make this journey along the length of his country exclusively by bus. Spall does this with a physical heaviness and such a persistently drooping lower lip that one easily takes the 80-year-old curmudgeon off the actor, who was only 64 years old when the film was shot. Of course, Tom's journey, with its incidents and unexpected encounters, also brings him out of his shell. But the film does not whitewash it into a fun-loving feel-good tour. No, this man is and remains tired and sick. But he accomplishes his final task with an imperturbability that amounts to something else: The long journey honors the person who made an incomparably longer and more arduous one with him. Tom has a mission, that is more important than good mood.Andreas Furler
Der Film des Schotten Gillies MacKinnon nimmt sich Zeit, eine Zeit, die Tom Harper eigentlich nicht mehr hat. Es ist ein grosser Monolog auf das Leben, verkörpert vom 64-jährigen Timothy Spall («The King’s Speech»), den die Kamera fast nie loslässt.Peer Teuwsen