Shot in two, simultaneous single takes, Gavin Booth’s “Last Call” is a compelling story of two strangers who didn’t think they needed one another, find a way to reach out when they needed each other the most. Reminiscent of Gustav Möller‘s “The Guilty,” “Last Call” is a visceral, human film with two powerhouse performances, offering a range of emotions throughout each of their respective single takes. “Last Call” is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I don’t mind admitting that I had trouble with how to open up my review of Gavin Booth’s award-winning “Last Call,” which is making its circuit around North America now.
The reason why I’m having trouble is because film is an interesting and subjective canvas on which to express emotion. Our perception of emotion is shaped by our experiences, coloring our view of the world.
Gavin Booth’s “Last Call” is unique in that it serves as an allegory for its themes, but also the direct interaction between Beth (Sarah Booth) and Scott played by co-screenwriter Daved Wilkins. Beth is a single mother who takes on a shift for someone else while Scott is at the end of his rope when he calls into what he thought was a suicide help line.
Perspective is an important attribute in unraveling the raw, human emotion on display as these two complete strangers’ stories are told in two, single takes shot simultaneously in two different parts of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Booth uses a split screen to identify the emotional states of each of the characters.
The use of the split screen is ingenious as it not only offers a perspective for each character and their frame of mind, but it also calls attention to the shifting perspective. There was a point in the film where you understand the emotional shift. The film is not trying to hide it or be ambiguous. In fact, the flow of the two concurrent ends of the conversation hopes that you would be invested in the emotions on display.
Ms. Booth transitions through a range of emotions effortlessly as Beth, a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She’s working as an overnight housekeeper when Scott calls in, expecting to find a suicide prevention line. Instead, two deeply traumatized souls find one another.
The uniqueness of the dual single shot scenes play to the film’s strengths as sound becomes a very significant part of the experience. Booth’s film recalls Gustav Möller’s “The Guilty,” which uses audio to tell a similar, traumatic story. The visual cues in “Last Call” add a chillingly effective look at the unavoidable.
Perspective is critical to understanding the story. Although I have not experienced suicide, it is a prevalent part of my lifestyle, so I am acutely aware of it. Hopelessness and despair; feeling like there is nothing worth living for is an all-too-common situation that affects everyone.
There’s a vibrancy in Seth Wessel-Estes’s cinematography that only adds to the building emotional tension. The music is subtle, but also gives both characters an emotional imperative.
If you’ll allow me, I’m going to be cavalier for a moment. It isn’t meant to be disingenuous, but to make a point in reference to Booth’s film.
I’ve spent a good deal of my life reflecting on death. This isn’t a statement of morosity; rather it relates to the fact that my parents’s family members were much older when I was a kid. As a result, death doesn’t have the same meaning to me as does a persons’ life; and I think that’s the point of humanity – our ability to watch out for each other.
If we choose to do so.
And that’s the challenge behind Booth’s message. All too often I’ll see friends on social media post a message about Suicide Prevention and a toll-free number to call if you need help. I’ll confess to scrolling by the messages.
I’d sooner settle for a film like “Last Call” to help move the conversation about this subject forward because it does what it sets out to do: find someone who will listen, anyone. You might just save a life.
Directed by: Gavin Michael Booth
Written by: Gavin Michael Booth and Daved Wilkins
Starring: Daved Wilkins and Sarah Booth
NR, 77 minutes, A Mimetic Entertainment Release