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the last bus

★★★

starring: timothy spall, phyllis logan, natalie mitson, and ben ewing

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

When an interdimensional rupture unravels reality, an unlikely hero must channel her newfound powers to fight bizarre and bewildering dangers from the multiverse as the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

In the second Timothy Spall movie in as many months, we gain another tour de force performance from the legendary British character actor who completely embodies the aged Tom. Although The Last Bus is tonally confused, Timothy Spall gives a truly memorable performance in a tale that celebrates the very best of humanity. 

Life is a journey and The Last Bus takes our old soldier, 90-year-old Tom Harper (Timothy Spall) on an epic trip from his home of fifty years - a remote village in the most northerly point of Scotland - back to the place he was born – close to England’s most southerly point. Battling against time, age and fate, desperate to keep a promise to his beloved wife Mary (Phyllis Logan), our intrepid hero Tom embarks on an odyssey, revisiting his past, connecting with the modern world and a diverse, multicultural Britain he has never experienced. 

The premise of The Last Bus is an endearing one but ultimately the execution of it is a mixture of confused tone and some unnecessary narrative diversions. For what is essentially a road movie, The Last Bus doesn’t keep up a very consistent pace in the way in which it delivers its story. While the narrative has a very clear and specific drive, the stakes that are thrust into the film halfway through feel forced as does Tom’s journey becoming popularised through social media. 

However, The Last Bus does have its splendid moments in its quiet and composed exploration of grief and manages to give not only dignity but also agency to a senior person which few films of its ilk manages to achieve. 

The real reason to see The Last Bus is Spall’s performance. Again he is magnificent in instilling a charm and manner from another era into his character of Tom while being completely believable as a ninety year through not only his performance but the aid of costuming, makeup and a permanent stoop.

Although The Last Bus is tonally confused, Timothy Spall gives a truly memorable performance in a tale that celebrates the very best of humanity. 

★★★