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1 review, 3 user ratings

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Last Great Wilderness, The
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by Beth Gilligan

"The feature-length debut of Young Adam director David MacKenzie."
3 stars

In The Last Great Wilderness, director David MacKenzie trains his camera on the harsh beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Anchored by Ewan McGregor’s muted performance as a one-man home-wrecking crew, Young Adam (2003) was notable for its cool refusal to judge its main character’s actions. As befitting such a film, the pacing was laconic, save for a jarring flashback or two. This consistency in tone is one of the main things that distinguish Young Adam from its director’s previous effort, the comedy/thriller The Last Great Wilderness (2002). In the latter, director David MacKenzie has no trouble creating a moody, offbeat atmosphere but has more difficulty shifting gears to the realm of horror.

The Last Great Wilderness stars Monarch of the Glen’s Alistair MacKenzie (the director’s brother, who also co-wrote the screenplay) as Charlie, a bitter man en route to Scotland to wreak revenge on his ex-wife and her new lover, preferably by setting fire to the latter’s country house. Along the way, he meets a charming but unhinged wanderer named Vincente, who claims to be a professional escort, on the run from the angry, violent husband of one of his clients. Vincente encounters Charlie in a roadside café, and is ultimately able to persuade him to give him a ride to Scotland.

The further north the two men drive, the more and more removed from civilization they become. When their car runs out of petrol, they are forced to make their way to the nearest inn, a ramshackle old house in the middle of nowhere that has been closed to guests for years due to a disturbing “incident” in the past. The house is inhabited by a host of characters, one more eccentric than the next. Most are recovering addicts of some sort, and almost all (with a couple of key exceptions) embrace their two new visitors.

The scenes of Charlie and Vincente hesitantly adjusting to their new, strange surroundings have a certain warmth and humor to them, at times recalling Bill Forsyth’s fish-out-of-water comedy Local Hero (1983). However, the characters’ eccentricities begin to wear increasingly thin as the film goes on; once they established their personalities, it seems the screenwriters were at a loss as to what to do with them. As the film moves towards its startlingly violent denouement, one wishes the director had found more ways to explore the relationship of the characters to the stark, beautiful, empty land that surrounds them.

The DVD, released in the States by TLA Entertainment, disappointingly includes only scene selection and the film’s trailer as extras. A commentary by the MacKenzie brothers, both of whom have demonstrated more talent in other realms, would have been desirable.

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originally posted: 09/02/04 01:18:11
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User Comments

12/05/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 3 stars
3/05/06 CeCi Kettendorf It has stayed with me since I saw it. I am now purchasing it. Haunting, funny.. 5 stars
6/06/05 Ron Albright crap crap crap 1 stars
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  DVD: 17-Aug-2004



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