Thursday, 3 January 2013
The Last Detail 
Fresh from his tremendous critical success with Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby’s follow-up film, viz. The Last Detail, too, was aimed against the establishment, albeit in a far more toned down manner. Whereas in the former the barbs were aimed at a wide ranging group, from the stiff lipped upper class to conservative patriarchs, here it was more focused – the regimentation and rigid authorities of the conservative armed forces, and the result was not just a film in perfect sync with the anti-establishmentarian spirit of the era, but also a memorably layered and affecting coming-of-age tale on friendship and freedom. “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young) are two jaded Navy lifers entrusted with the task of escorting Meadows (Randy Quaid), a young sailor sentenced to 8 years in prison and dishonorable discharge for stealing a paltry 40 dollars, from their Norfolk base to Portsmouth prison. On the way the gregarious Badass decides to give the shy Meadows the grandest time of his life, and make a man out of him – both in literal and figurative senses, which the more restrained Mule reluctantly agrees to, during their travel via New York. The gritty visuals, edgy tone and the profanity-laden script were brilliantly complemented with the film’s softer and more melancholic inner core. Nicholson gave a fabulous performance as the outwardly aggressive but essentially soft-hearted sailor with an inherent dislike for pompous authorities. The other two actors, too, gave fine turns, as the three take a quintessentially American road journey where machismo and bravado co-exist with understated male friendship and coming to terms with one’s insecurities, frustrations, alienation and existential angst.
Director: Hal Ashby
Genre: Drama/Social Satire/Buddy Film/Road Movie