The Last Weekend
Imagine great actresses like Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska in the same movie! That’s probably all you would need to know about its high quality. But throw in the director of Notting Hill (Roger Michell) and the always reliable Sam Neill. Now you know it’s a must-see. But not so fast. The subject matter is sad and serious. It’s not The Banger Sisters or Alice in Wonderland. Are you still excited about the film? If not, I hope to change your mind about Blackbird, a first-rate drama written by Christian Torpe involving a decision about death. However, despite its somber tone, this intriguing offering also includes humor and compassion. Plus, love and family are emphasized throughout the movie.
Sarandon plays Lily, a terminally ill matriarch with ALS, who brings together her loved ones for a last weekend before she takes a medication that will end her life. Winslet and Wasikowska portray her very different daughters who don’t seem to get along at all. Neill plays her understanding husband. The interactions among these main characters are fascinating and filled with emotion. Their arguments, secrets, and poignant moments are shared with us as the story unfolds.
The rest of the cast members also deserve praise, especially Rainn Wilson as Lily’s son-in-law, Lindsay Duncan as her best friend, and Anson Boon as her disappointed grandson.
Terminal illness changes one.
Physical traps and emotion.
A wife/mother wants not to wait.
She’d rather decide her own fate.
She wants to go with dignity
while she can talk and walk and see.
One last weekend with family.
But with her will they all agree?
Acting moves “Blackbird” up a bar
Sarandon, Winslet and Neill star.
Filmed lovingly plus splendid cast.
With sad subject will viewers last?
Pandemic still across the land.
Light entertainment in demand.
I hope we’re strong enough to see
a movie of this quality.
Would this film be as great without Sarandon? I have to admit being an avid Sarandon fan. While writing my book, Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick (2004), I learned how much she enjoys “movie mom” roles. She has played all kind of mothers – good ones, bad ones and outrageous ones – starting way back in 1978 in the role of a prostitute with a beautiful daughter (Pretty Baby).
“I’m striving to make these roles more than just mothers – but also real women,” Sarandon explained in our telephone interview a few years ago.
And that’s what she’s done with Lily. We forget about Sarandon the movie star as we watch Lily struggling with simple things such as getting out of bed in the morning or going up and down a staircase. And we see the love deep within those big eyes as she interacts with her dear ones during that last weekend.
(Released by Screen Media Films and rated “R” by MPAA.)