In this low key Australian film, Hugo Weaving plays a farther called Kev who takes his ten year old son Chook (Tom Russell) on a road trip to explore the vast and beautiful Australian outback. However the hidden truth is that the father is actually on the run after committing a violent crime. As father and son journey into the desert and into the unknown future, their already troubled relationship is shaken even more as they take to the road with no money. Traveling from town to town stealing cars and food as they venture through Australia, Kev and Chook must battle the odds and often each other. Directed by Glendyn Ivin, Last Ride (2009) is a humble and yet terrifying Australian drama based on the novel The Last Ride by Denise Young. This is a coming of age story about a young boy who is confronted with moral choices that often have devastating effect on him and his father’s life.
As the pair head deep into the Australian bush, it becomes quite clear that father and son are heading away from trouble, to an unknown destination. Just before they head off into the beautiful South Australian landscape, Kev cuts his hair and they ditch their car. The father and son try to maintain normality, however with a shaky history, an ill temper and the stresses of being on the run, the pair’s future has already been chosen before hitting the road. Despite their dire situation and often beatings, Kev shows a compassionate humanitarian side and the pair often have their heartfelt father and son bonding moments. Silhouetted they light sparklers at dusk, Kev shows his son the art of bushcraft in the forest and teaching him how to swim in the shimmering outback lakes.
The films that come to mind when watching Last Ride are, Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002), Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973) and even Dennis Hopper’s Easy Riders (1969) is a comparable film, if you leave out the drugs. Like in most road trip dramas, there is always a sense of an unknown destination, both physically and mentally. With two characters that seem to have nothing in common, the road helps discover common ground for the two. The first time we see Kev and Chook express some interest in each other is their curiosity of their family background.
One of the key fascinating elements in Last Ride is the symbolism in location that Glendyn Ivin uses to expresses emotional bond between the father and son. In a fit of rage Kev abandons Chook in a vast and void desert, layered with a thin layer of water. As Kev drives away from his son, the boy soon realises the emotional and physical emptiness between him and his father. Chook is soon thrown into a world of adulthood and is left to make a difficult choice, for both himself and his father.