The Last Shift (2020)

ANDREW COHN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 2020. , , . Screenplay by Andrew Cohn. Cinematography by . Produced by , , , , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Richard Jenkins works the late overnight shift at a fast food restaurant in a tiny, boxmall town in Michigan, a burger joint that still gets customers despite not being one of the popular chains.  He has been working the same shift for the same pay for over thirty years and is now on his last weekend on the job, preparing to drive south to Florida to take his mother out of her retirement home and take care of her himself.  comes to work with him in preparation for taking over the job, a young man barely out of high school who has a child to support and is forced to work as part of his parole.  Initially uninterested in pursuing excellence in such a menial, unimportant job, McGhie spends enough time with his older mentor that they get a rhythm going despite their vast differences, one much older, white and seemingly not the sharpest knife in the shed, the other young, black, whipsmart and full of cautious optimism for the future.  They eventually clash when the restaurant’s emptiest moments has them discussing their views on life and Jenkins has a knee-jerk reaction to McGhie’s opinions on systemic oppression, the older man seeing himself as a working-class nobody as much oppressed by the system as anybody else.  The plot bears out their differences in the way the world reacts to them regardless of their feeling about it: with his luck turning against him in his increasingly dubious plans to go to Florida, Jenkins, who it turns out does not have his brother’s or his mother’s support for his decision, makes a morally questionable choice that does not result in his being held responsible for his actions, while McGhie has a really difficult time staying out of trouble despite performing the requirements of his parole to an exact degree.  The message is neither muddy nor subtle, for some it might seem almost vulgar in its plainness, for others it will be the most sophisticated way of proving a point, as there’s no denying that Andrew Cohn’s script and direction, sort of a male version of Support The Girls, create fully-dimensional characters with which to relay the information.  Jenkins is particularly good at putting across a character whose choice to not question anything for so long has dulled the top layer of his personality without successfully addressing the fiery anger he contains deep within him, and it mixes beautifully with McGhie’s irreverent exasperation with a world that he has to fight against to succeed in.

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