A meteor hit sends a wave of fire around the globe, wiping out all life. In Perth, the last place to go, James (Nathan Phillips) is distracted by lost ten-year-old Rose (Angourie Rice). They spends their last hours making human connections with strangers and loved ones.
A trickle of films deal with the last moments before the end of the world – Last Night, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, 4.44: Last Day On Earth, Melancholia. This Australian take, written and directed by Zak Hilditch, subliminally evokes the genre’s first great example, On The Beach.
This Australian end of the world movie evokes the genre’s first great example, On The Beach.
Protagonist James (Nathan Phillips) leaves pregnant Zoe (Jessica De Gouw) in their beach house to hook up with his other, richer, trashier girlfriend Vicky (Kathryn Beck). Driving through a montage of chaos, he sees thugs dragging off a screaming, pleading ten-year-old, Rose (Angourie Rice), so they can spend the last few hours of humanity indulging in consequence-free paedophile rape.
Against his instincts, James rescues Rose, who he now needs to get rid of, although she wants him to take her to her aunt’s place to be with her father at the end. Their wayward trip leads Vicky’s wild party, where Rose is drugged by a mad woman (Predestination's Sarah Snook, stealing a scene) who wants her to replace her vanished daughter. James and Rose make calmer visits to James’ estranged mother (Lynette Curran), who is doing jigsaw puzzles, and the aunt’s place, scene of a mass suicide (or murder) before a Last Wave-style climax as a big burn hits Australia ("it’s beautiful").
Hilditch implies what kind of guy the hero used to be from the stalled relationships addressed during his detour into heroism, but doesn’t burden us with too many speeches. It may be that helping Rose is James’ version of doing crossword puzzles, getting smashed, participating in an orgy, killing people or committing suicide: just a way to avoid thinking about the unthinkable.
So many films address the premise because it’s always thought-provoking and affecting. This also has a bleached, depopulated, effectively catastrophe-struck feel and an intriguing adult-and-child road movie storyline.