Last Ride tells the tale of a desperate man on the run with his ten-year-old son. Kev and Chook flee a terrible crime, travelling across an unforgiving landscape as they struggle to survive and evade the forces arrayed against them. Theirs is a complex relationship, where genuine love and interdependence is corrupted by neglect and threats of violence. During their journey together, revelations are made about the past and the secrets and lies that define their history. Fleeting moments of playfulness are overshadowed by hunger, Kev's brutality, and an uncertainty about what the future holds for them. Chook's loyalty to his father is tested by his growing sense of right and wrong and his need to listen to his own conscience. This is ultimately the story of a young boy's emotional survival, and of his profound moral dilemma: whether to stick by his father or do what he knows is right.
With Last Ride, director Glendyn Ivin follows up on the promise of his Palme d'Or winning short film, Cracker Bag (2003). He demonstrates an unerring feel for the dark, mysterious power of the Australian landscape and a willingness to trust in his audience's ability to intuit the subtle meanings hidden in silences and quotidian exchanges. The film is distinctively, harshly Australian, but never lapses into mawkish Ockerisms. Hugo Weaving gives a brilliantly controlled, nuanced performance as the brutal and brutalized father, Kev, never allowing us to lose sight of his vulnerability and his flawed humanity. Young Tom Russell is simply perfect as Chook – smart, tough and touching. Last Ride is filmmaking at its most accomplished: it offers us a gripping story touching on themes of survival, loyalty, masculinity and family; multi-faceted characters caught up in a troubled relationship; and a pure aesthetic instinct for moments of poetry and deep emotion.
Family is the crucible in which we are all formed, and telling stories about our families allows us to make sense of these rich, complex human experiences. Last Ride is a finely observed and beautifully rendered account of the bond between father and son, the tests it endures, and the betrayals that undermine it. It deserves to be explored in detail and would have application to middle to senior secondary English, English Literature, Film/Media Studies, SOSE/HSIE and Personal Development.
The main aim of this guide is to present a wide variety of teaching and learning opportunities based on the film that range in sophistication and complexity. Teachers are encouraged to pick and choose tasks that suit the particular interests and abilities of their students and the timeframes within which they are operating – not to work through the guide systematically. Most of the activities target literacy outcomes: speaking and listening, reading and writing. There are also activities that address film/media analysis, ICT and creative thinking. The statements presented in quotation marks are intended to be thoughtprovoking or controversial and can be used in a number of ways: as a focus for discussion, debate or oral presentations; and as a direction for further research, analysis or creative writing tasks.
Teachers need to be aware that Last Ride is rated M and contains frequent very coarse language, violence and references to child sexual abuse. Teachers are also encouraged to explore the special features disc: it includes deleted scenes; two of Ivin's short films; a 55-minute behind the scenes documentary; and fascinating rehearsal footage.