Star Rating:

The Last Right

Director: Aoife Crehan

Actors: Michiel Huisman, Niamh Algar, Samuel Bottomley

Release Date: Friday 6th December 2019

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 106 minutes

'The Last Right' moves at a steady pace, but is held back by how familiar it is

A fateful exchange on a flight from New York to Ireland has complicated consequences for Daniel Murphy (Michiel Huisman). He’s left in charge of a corpse, the body of someone he never knew. He is persuaded to take on the challenge of getting an environmentally friendly cardboard coffin from his family home in Clonakilty to Rathlin Island by his autistic younger brother Louis (Samuel Bottomley) and Mary (Niamh Algar), a flighty young mortician with her own agenda.

Romantic comedies are often a product of their destination, and the best examples include New York and 'When Harry Met Sally', London and 'Notting Hill', or Seattle and 'Sleepless In Seattle'. That 'The Last Right' is a romantic comedy set between two destinations - Clonakilty and Rathlin Island - means that it doesn't just take in those two places, but takes in the entirety of Ireland as they attempt to cross it and evade Gardai in the process.

Like most romantic comedies of this ilk, you have to suspend a lot of reality in order for it to work. For example, there's absolutely no way that anyone from West Cork sounds like whatever it is that Colm Meaney's accent is attempting. More to the point, why even give him that accent in the first place? Likewise, placing English actor Samuel Bottomley and Dutch actor Michiel Huisman in the lead roles of a decidedly Irish romantic comedy seems like an equally strange decision. That might be the point, of course - that they're both disconnected from the country they're attempting to cross.

The only one who appears to be giving a natural, authentic performance is Niamh Algar, who's able to channel enough charm and warmth to keep the whole thing going. The dynamic that plays out between her, Huisman and Bottomley is the emotional core of the movie, but again, it borrows heavily from 'Rain Man' - something that her character even points out in one scene. Brian Cox, in one single scene, demonstrates his value as more than just a big-name cameo and proves why he's one of the most underrated actors working today.

By and large, 'The Last Right' moves at a steady pace, but is held back by how familiar it is and how it travels with the genre in such a safe and predictable way. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as romantic comedies that come with this kind of gentle humour and warmth of character have to be safe and predictable. Moreover, if the US and the UK can have theirs, why not us? Sweet and earnest in all the right places, 'The Last Right' rolls through with just enough fuel to get it to the end.