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"The Last Blast" is a road film and a story of a journey
by Erik Sean McGiven on May 01, 2008
"The Last Blast" is a road film, a journey where
the Spirit of the Sixties battles the fight for today. It's a trip back in time
when the open road meant freedom and the words peace and love had real meanings.
<>What a pleasure it is to discover a movie that compares the
spirit of the sixties with the chaos the world is facing today. This is not a debate but a journey of one
troubled soul trying to make sense of the world she lives in and her finding
answers that date back some forty years.
"The Last Blast" begins at a punk rock club in Bern,
Switzerland where Helenka
(played by newcomer Mimie LaGrande)
contemplates her nightmarish life. A
young rambunctious Swiss punk girl with a destructive edge, she spoils the
local Nazi's festivities with a mixture of lighted petrol and rotten meat. Her drug dealing stepfather hates her and her
mother, a hopeless junkie, overdoses.
Then she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her. Alone and depressed, she seeks the only
refuge left in her life, Eddie, her estranged
father living in Arizona.
Reilly - "American Cousins") was
planning a crazy motorbike trip to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada
so when Helenka arrives unexpectedly he asks her to come along. It was a trip he had long planned to take
with her mother. From Tucson
they cross the scorching deserts into California
and north to Nevada. Slowly Helenka and her father get
reacquainted but soon realize how different they are. Helenka has been raised on a diet of hardcore
punk, the toughest of realities and an attitude to boot. Eddie is an
easy-going hog-riding hippie and riding his bike he relives the spirit of the
sixties, the happiest time of his life.
Helenka's rebellious ways test Eddie's
laid-back life. He tells her to
"chill out" and enjoy the trip.
She strikes out at the establishment while her father's philosophy is
'make love, not war.' Yet while their
ideologies clash they slowly bond as father and daughter. On the trip they are joined by Eddie's
old friend, Grips, played by Heinz
Hoenig (Das Boot). Grip is a bit eccentric and owns a dream of a
bike, a 1974 Norton Combat Commando.
The mood in this movie reminds me of the old westerns, shot
in the half-light of doorways and open sheds against the expansive vistas of
the southwest. It's almost as if the
distant horizon is beckoning and pulling them toward their true destinies. And instead of horses, motorbikes whisk them
along the winding roads and stretches of land that housed the mythic American
creation of the western. The vintage
bikes give depth to the story, each with its distinct exhaust bark, and along
with the energy-driven traveling music create the feeling that freedom is just
around the next bend.
character exudes a groping troubled young woman searching for some clarity in
her life. Though extremely attractive,
Helenka has a tough outer shell that reflects a turbulent past. Her callous heart is one that has been broken
many times. Thus her renewed
relationship with her father takes a long time to blossom. While they argue and pout they gradually
accept one another and traces of the little girl in her start to beautifully
emerge. In early portions of the trip,
Helenka is just a fixture on the back of the motorcycle but as the relationship
warms, she clings to her daddy like a young child. By the end of the film, she leaves the nest,
transformed into a much stronger person who can fend for herself. And her anger is now her energy, controlled
and purposeful. An impressive
heartwarming performance to say the least.
Her father, played by Rab
Reilly, is a man who won't give up the past
and the spirit of the sixties. He
wallows in the artifacts of that era, driving a vintage Harley Davidson
Shovelhead, wearing a leather jacket and sporting a helmet with a peace symbol
on the back. He's a repentive father who
knows he's done wrong, especially in abandoning his daughter. Winning her back is quite a challenge and
Reilly does an admirable job in depicting this struggle, knowing how fragile
Grips, played by Heinz
Hoenig, is a lovable old fart anyone would
cherish as a drinking buddy. He too has
unfulfilled dreams and the trip to The Burning Man Festival is his last blast. Ill and dying he adds a poignant sidebar to
this tale. Yet it is his humor and
philosophies of life that create uplifting moments in this film. A gifted and award winning actor, Hoenig
plays his role like a true icon of the old west, gallant and courageous along
with a good portion of heart.
There are some ironic aspects to "The Last
Blast." Helenka, a tough punk kid
always dressed in gothic black, portrays to be a vegetarian, avoids cigarettes
and hard liquor; and instead she drinks milk.
But being true to her character she does have a tattoo on her butt. And according to the press book, that scar
under Mimie LaGrande's
eye is real, the result of being attacked by a couple in London. She fought them off slamming one into a Coke
machine. The scar could have been
covered with makeup but it lent a Puccini-like sadness to her character. Another ironic tidbit in the use of the
line, "Never trust a fart and never waste a hard-on," which
incidentally appears in both "The Last Blast" as well as in Jack
Nickolson and Morgan Freeman's film, "The Bucket List." It should be known that "The Last
Blast" wrapped long before "Bucket List" was released and the
likely explanation is that the line has long been circulating in many a bar.
Production values on this film are first rate, especially
the lensing by Urs Grünig,
and John Spencer
This team captures the spectacular vistas of the trip as well as the
subtle relationships between the three main characters. The countless locations extending from
Switzerland to Scotland to the deserts of Arizona, California and Nevada plus
aerial shots give this film a big budget feel and add considerable impact to
the dramatic journey. The music by
various cult-bands including Knuckledust, Illuminati, Canadian Folk Legend
David Essig, streetbusker Rob van Wely, Krokus and many more likewise support the
film’s journey, not only in distance but also in emotional awareness. The sound design by Peter
Von Siebenthal is extremely well done,
particularly the traveling shots where the music is mixed with the approaching
and passing sounds of the motorcycles.
It makes the open roads part of this story showing us the way to freedom
and finding our own destiny.
The self-deprecating credits Executed Produzzer, Big Ejite
and Misdirected by Sohm Offös, are a story on to themselves and much too
complex for this review. They would,
however, be good source material for an interview or a humorous behind-the-scenes
film article. Besides Mimie
Reilly and Heinz
Hoenig, the film's cast also includes Nick
and 'Crevelly' Bob St.
Pierre as "Spirit of the Sixties." 118 minutes, not rated, in Swiss and English
with English subtitles.
September 22, 2019