They talk of British miserablism, but the Australians have a nice line in it themselves, as shown by this film from director Glendyn Ivin. In the middle of the outback, the boy Chook (Tom Russell) drives and drives with his father Kev (Hugo Weaving) across magnificent scenery — and both are largely indifferent to it, because they are on the run.
Chook is quiet cowed, and so neglected he can’t read. Kev is violently moody, apt to leave the boy in a storeroom while he goes out to get hammered and beaten up.
Russell makes Chook arrestingly real, down to how, in the way of all children, he will try to make a toy out of anything. Weaving has the harder part, a man who teaches his son to swim by throwing the kid into a deep pond.
“Last Ride” focuses on how a son (Tom Russell, right) can survive abuse by his own father (Hugo Weaving) while the two are on the run.
After one terrifying beating, all you can do is pray that Chook escapes with a bit of humanity still in him, and indeed, “Last Ride” is very concerned with how a child’s spirit can survive abuse. Both Weaving and the movie itself do manage to show that this violent, hopelessly damaged man yearns to be a father, but will never know how. The trouble is that the film also wants to make Kev at least partly sympathetic, despite his monstrous treatment of his son, and nothing we learn about him ever does, or could, accomplish that.