These Final Hours


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

These Final Hours
"A compelling, interesting and well-acted redemption tale."

And lo! There shall be shortages of food and petrol. And it shall come to pass that the bins shall not be emptied. But the sellers of white powder shall continue in their noble work, distributing nose candy in copious quantities, verily, until the absolute end.

And those whose bodies are beach fit and beautiful shall party, often naked: but the pasty of appearance and the old shall off themselves in great numbers and photogenically, even unto hanging themselves naked from the nearest lamp post.

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Thus it shall be when the end of the world arrives in Australia, where perpetual sunshine and beach culture transform the pre-cremation of These Final Hours into one great big party. Or die-in. As opposed to the UK, where a similar film might see those about to burn turning up the heating, putting on their best cardies, and splashing out on an extra portion of chips.

I mock. Unfairly. Because since when has the filmed apocalypse ever paid any attention to science - or even basic common sense? Close one eye to the ridiculousness of the narrrative: try not, as my companion did, to ask awkward question about how realistic the final scene actually is; and in These Final Hours, you have a compelling, interesting and well-acted redemption tale, as selfish bastard James (Nathan Phillips) is set back upon the road to doing the right thing by a chance encounter with frightened innocent Rose (Angourie Rice).

Both are engaging: both draw you in, providing real characters about whom, by the end, you care.

The film opens with James abandoning Zoe (Jessica de Gouw), clearly a “good woman”, who loves him and has only just discovered that she is pregnant with a child who will now never be born. Instead, he sets off across Perth (Australia) to party with friends and to see the world out with a bang. In this case, his other girlfriend, Vicky (Kathryn Beck), whose plans for the occasion include much fucking and enough coke to sustain the Colombian economy for a week.

Or, as she romantically interjects: “If you leave, I'll kill you. […] And then I'll kill myself.” Of such moments is modern romance constructed!

The best made plans, though, oft go astray. In James' case, an attack of principle leads him to rescue Rose from a pair of would-be rapists, and then to make a lengthy detour from his planned itinerary in an attempt to re-unite her with her father. Along the way, they encounter a procession of humans dealing badly with their imminent end: turning to drink, drugs, violence or suicide. Some have got religion.

A single note of sanity – or maybe pathological detachment - is introduced by James' mum (Lynette Curran) who has got jigsaws and plans to be making them when the end arrives.

What works well is how the road trip to end all road trips focuses on the relationship and growing respect between James and Rose. It is cliché of course – that the wisest most grown-up person in the entire film is also the least adult – but it works. There is no indication that Director Zak Hilditch had any literary source in mind when he made this: but the parallel to Dante's Inferno is palpable, with James as startled voyager, travelling onward through a land of grotesques towards eventual salvation, Rose channeling Beatrice, spirit guide and pure of heart.

Will Rose find her father? Will James eventually, belatedly, find his way back to Zoe?

For those of gentle disposition, the language of the film is frequently blue (in one exchange, a dozen consecutive f-words before I gave up counting), there is much explicit violence and a great deal that is disturbing. It is one thing to watch bad guys – in this case, two paedophiles – dispatched bloodily with a claw hammer: quite another to contemplate the awful decisions faced by loving parents. For those brought up on a diet of action and righteous movie revenge, the latter is likely to prove much more difficult.

And yet....and yet …these are precisely the sort of awful graphic decisions with which These Final Hours bombards you.

There is to be no last minute reprieve, courtesy of Bruce Willis (Armageddon): nor is there any safe place to proceed to or last minute family reconciliation (Deep Impact). This is the end and this – you may disagree – is the awful, messy, inelegant way in which we humans depart the world.

Or at least, Australia.

A film that definitely grows on you, and well worth a watch.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2016
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These Final Hours packshot
The world is about to end and a young man is heading to one last party when he encounters a young girl searching for her father.
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Director: Zak Hilditch

Writer: Zak Hilditch

Starring: Nathan Phillips, Angourie Rice, Sarah Snook, Jessica De Gouw, Daniel Henshall

Year: 2013

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: Australia

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