Review: ‘The Last Escape’

Euthanasia is subjected to disease-of-the-week movie conventions in the wannabe tearjerker "The Last Escape."

Euthanasia is subjected to disease-of-the-week movie conventions in the wannabe tearjerker “The Last Escape,” from Swiss-born, Montreal-based helmer Lea Pool (“Emporte-moi”). Francophone Canuck ensemble, led by Jacques Godin in the tricky role of the drooling, Parkinson’s-affected patriarch, is strong, but there isn’t much else to recommend about this stolid adaptation of co-scripter Gil Courtemanche’s novel “A Good Death.” Life support in ancillary looms.

Though pic’s first half covers a Christmas dinner that introduces the extended, ennui-inducing Levesque clan, the unfocused narrative pivots around a single moment in the childhood of Andre (Jules St-Jean as a child, Denys Arcand regular Yves Jacques as an adult) that explains the hatred toward his now-ailing, septuagenarian dad, Anatole (Godin). But numerous flashbacks — in shaky, overexposed Super 8 — reduce a potentially complex father-son relationship to a simplistic tit-for-tat. Like Godin, Andree Lachapelle, as Anatole’s wife, is outstanding, though her character’s final actions reek more of screenplay convenience than character conviction. Violin- and piano-driven score doesn’t dare wander off the beaten path; other craft contributions also march in line.

The Last Escape

Canada-Luxembourg

Production

A Seville Pictures (in Canada)/Iris Distribution (in Luxembourg) release of an Equinoxe Films, Iris Prods. production. (International sales: E1 Entertainment, Toronto.) Produced by Lyse Lafontaine, Nicolas Steil. Directed by Lea Pool. Screenplay, Pool, Gil Courtemanche, based on the novel "A Good Death" by Courtemanche.

Crew

Camera (Super 8/HD-to-35mm), Pierre Mignot; editor, Michel Arcand; music, Andre Dziezuk, Marc Mergen; production designer, Regine Constant; costume designer, Michele Hamel, Valerie Levesque. Reviewed at Cine Utopia, Luxembourg, June 24, 2010. (In Shanghai Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Jacques Godin, Yves Jacques, Aliocha Schneider, Andree Lachapelle, Nicole Max, Marie-France Lambert, Isabelle Miquelon, Martine Francke, Jules St-Jean. (French dialogue)
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