The Last Shift (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir: Andrew Cohn, US, 2020, 91 mins.

Cast: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie

Review by Carlie Newman

It is always worth watching anything starring Richard Jenkins. He invariably gives a very true and honest performance. In The Last Shift you can believe that he is Stanley, a chef in a fast-food outlet

The time has come for him to retire after 38 years at the same place in a small area of Michigan. He really enjoys his job and is proud of the fact that he is well-liked and considered a very good employee. But apart from his age, he wants to go to Florida as he feels that his mother who has been moved into a retirement home, needs him.

Stanley has been working the night shift, meaning he is the only one there for almost the whole time. He has responsibility for the cash, the food, serving the customers, cleaning and generally running the place.

The young man booked to be his replacement is very different. Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie) is in his early 20s. On probation after a prison sentence, he has lost a few jobs and now has to succeed in this one or he will be in trouble with his probation terms. His girlfriend is fed up with him not being around to help with their small child, Carter, or provide for them.

Jevon approaches the job of Night Manager in a very laid-back fashion. He doesn’t understand why Stanley works so hard for so little money. He gets things wrong and Stanley finds teaching him the ropes really difficult. He strives hard to instill in Jevon a feeling of pride in his job and do it properly. But Jevon would like to be a writer and has no interest in the new job.

Hoping to drive to Florida to help his mother move to a different nursing Home, Stanley tries out a car but can’t drive and ends up damaging it and being stuck with a poor vehicle. Jevon enlightens Stanley about institutionalised racism and the difficulty of being black in a white society and the two begin to build a cooperatively style. But when Stanley is mugged on his way back from a shopping trip, the relationship starts to sour. Jevon is in trouble in the job and with his girlfriend who leaves with their son.

The film changes somewhat from a kind of buddy movie into a drama about class and race. Not always successfully it balances the different elements of ageing and youth alongside the other issues. And the finale is not quite what one expects.

What makes it work, however, are the performances. Jenkins is absolutely spot on as the retiring Night Manager and McGhie gives a charming performance as his designated replacement.

Available to watch on digital platforms