Last Station, The
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Last Station, The

An occasionally disquieting look into the lives of residents at a Chilean nursing home.

The Last Station

4 Stars


Monday, April 29, 6 p.m.
ROM Theatre (100 Queen’s Park)

Tuesday, April 30, 4:15 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)

Thursday, May 2, 1 p.m.
ROM Theatre (100 Queen’s Park)

In The Last Station, the approach taken by co-directors Catalina Vergara and Cristian Soto to their subjects—the elderly residents of a Chilean nursing home—evinces an omniscient, detached perspective, but with a sense of benevolence. It evokes the fatalism of Béla Tarr, only with empathy replacing apocalyptic portent.

Featuring perhaps the most gorgeous cinematography of any film you’ll see all year (courtesy of Soto, who also acts as DP), The Last Station flits between residents, stopping to observe them going through their daily motions, or, in the film’s most disquieting sequences, experiencing what may be some of their final moments. All the while, Vergara and Soto seem to be developing a loose but potent thesis on time, its ever-encroaching advancement, and how it can act as both our ultimate foe and our most sterling companion in our final days. Thankfully, with the exception of a choral performance of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” they never feel the need to underline those ideas in an obtuse fashion.

More restless viewers will come to resent sequences such as the one in which residents—all but two of whom have fallen asleep—take in a documentary on marine life. Rather than being some kind of metatextual gag, though, the scene serves to illustrate the value of unobtrusive style.

In its patient observation of the part of life no creature alive wants to think about, The Last Station makes visible an existential state that most of us can only imagine. For that alone, it’s a remarkable achievement.

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