The Great Torment
Frances Kroll (Neve Campbell) arrives at the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Jeremy Irons) for an interview to be his secretary only to find him in bed, hung over and depressed. Given the job Frances finds herself thrown in to his world of intoxication, an upset mistress, paranoia, demons and his institutionalized wife Zelda (Sissy Spacek). But somehow Frances manages to bring out the best in Fitzgerald as he tries to kick his addiction to alcohol in order to recapture his ability to write one more great novel rather than just work on scripts for MGM as he is loathed to do to try and makes end meet.
To my knowledge I have never read one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels, it wasn't required reading during the 80s when I was at school in Britain and as I am not one for reading novels I don't suppose I ever will. In fact I don't believe I have ever seen a picture of the real F. Scott Fitzgerald and truth be told I have no real interest in the tormented literary great. But I always believe that watching a movie like this with no knowledge can be beneficial because it brings it down to the base level of whether or not it manages to entertain and the good news is that it does.
Now I can split "Last Call" in to 3 parts; and the first of those is a once again an impressive performance from Jeremy Irons who brings to the screen a tormented character ravaged by a life of drinking. We see how he physically suffers misery when he tries to go cold turkey, shaky, insecure and a wreck of a man just entering his 40s. But we also see what it has done to his mind; not only through the torment he suffers when it comes to his relationships especially with Zelda haunting his mind but we also see how he is unable to focus for a minute on one thing, his need for a drink plaguing him. It is a masterful performance from Irons and it is the heart of the movie.
But then we get an equally good performance from Neve Campbell as his loyal and sympathetic secretary who ends up having to be more than just an assistant to him and end up almost mothering him to get him back on track, mixing being tough with kid gloves. Not only does Campbell carry of the look of a young woman in the 1930s but she brings heart to her performance which not only allows us to like her but share her sympathy for as well as her frustrations with Fitzgerald. In fairness there are other good performances with Sissy Spacek doing a nice job of playing Zelda as a tormentor of Fitzgerald's mind but the second thing is that sense of care which Frances has for Fitzgerald.
On top of this and the third part is that we do get to see in part Fitzgerald writing his final and at the time of his death unfinished novel. In truth whilst important it was not as important for me but I would hope those who are fans of Fitzgerald will enjoy the look of what he went through in order to write what many consist to be his greatest literary work.
What this all boils down to is that "Last Call" maybe for fans of Fitzgerald might lack something, I don't know, but for me it ends up an entertaining look at a tormented man and the women in his life.