Right off the bat, Gavin Michael Booth’s Last Call is a remarkable piece of filmmaking, from the important story it tells about depression and suicide to its underlying gimmick. Said gimmick is that Last Call is one continuous 77-minute shot while presenting its two lead performances in split-screen. The question is whether the split screen trick makes for a good film.
Last Call is about lonely and bitter Scott (David Wilkins), who instead of calling a suicide prevention hotline, mistakenly calls Beth (Sarah Booth), a janitor at a small university. Scott has reached rock bottom after receiving a letter from his daughter that he is not welcome at her graduation. Scott’s alcoholism, which caused the death of his son, has made him a toxic influence in his daughter and ex-wife’s lives.
“…instead of calling a suicide prevention hotline, mistakenly calls Beth, a janitor at a small university.”
Beth is a single mother, working the late shift to make ends meet for her children, and maybe catch a few credits while she’s at it. As she’s cleaning the classrooms, Beth picks up the school’s phone when Scott calls. The extraordinarily kind Beth strikes up a conversation and begins delving a little too deep into Scott’s problems and his past. After figuring out he is not in a good place, Beth takes it upon herself to be the sole voice of compassion currently in Scott’s life. But is she prepared for what she’s about to hear?
Back to the question of the split screen. The film is, in fact, two 77-minute continuous shots synced perfectly (with no 1917 style CG-breaks) for both Scott and Beth. The film begins with Scott on the top half, drinking away his troubles at a bar and then taking a long walk home to his apartment. Beth is on the bottom driving to work, worried that her son has not returned home from the movies.
David Wilkins has the “easy” part just sitting in his living room talking to Beth on the phone. Sarah Booth, on the other hand, is maintaining a conversation, while her character Beth is doing her job—cleaning rooms, mopping up spilled soda, and then moving to the next room. She’s talking to Scott over the school’s wireless phone headset.
"…two 77-minute continuous shots synced perfectly..."