The trials of low-level service-industry workers are often unexplored in movies. So, it's refreshing that writer-director Andrew Cohn's new film The Last Shift (now in theaters) shines a light on people often ignored on the big screen. However, Cohn's script tries too hard to shoehorn unneeded drama into the final act.
Richard Jenkins plays Stanley, an uneducated white man who has worked for 38 years as the night manager of a local fast food outlet in small-town Michigan. Shane Paul McGhie plays Jevon, a bright young teenager on probation who's been hired to replace Stanley. Stanley is leaving the job to go to Florida to help care for his senile mother.
The first half to two-thirds of the film is solid, character-based indie drama. Jevon wants something more for himself and is amazed that Stanley has toiled for so long for such little money in an unglamorous job (albeit one that Stanley clearly takes pride in). At its best, the film has simple conversations between two men of similar economic backgrounds but different races and generations.
Unfortunately, the script involves a crisis about two thirds of the way through. It feels forced and leads to an unsatisfying conclusion. Here's a film that actually would have been better served by less plot.
**1/2 Stars (out of four)