Sharp drama dissects life’s struggles

Stacey C. Slagle

Stanley is a dying breed.

He’s a 38-12 months veteran of Oscar’s Hen and Fish, a operate-of-the-mill rapid food stuff joint in Albion, Michigan, wherever he’s the night time manager. Days ahead of his retirement, he nevertheless life with two deadbeat roommates, makes lame “Terminator” jokes and does not know how to travel. But his enthusiasm lies with hamburger patties and honey-mustard sauce. Hollywood, which tends to glorify glitzier employment than this, forgets guys like Stanley exist.

His last week of operate is the subject of “The Final Shift,” author-director Andrew Cohn’s sharp new drama about center-class get the job done, race and our perceptions of each.

Awkward Stanley (Richard Jenkins) has decided to go to Florida to be close to his mom, so he’s advised to practice Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie) as his substitution. Jevon is a younger black father, recently out of jail and on parole. He thinks of himself as higher than the job, getting experienced a column in his school paper, and aspires to a more innovative lifestyle.

At to start with, they spar. “If I’m nevertheless listed here at your age, place me out of my misery, be sure to,” Jevon claims. But gradually they warm to each other, even enjoying a exciting match of frozen hamburger-patty hockey to make the graveyard shift go speedier.

You imagine you know where by Cohn’s film is headed when an altercation in the parking large amount hits you like mind freeze from a milkshake. A character we considered we realized cracks and goes down a ruthless route.

Stanley (Richard Jenkins, right) trains Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie) as his replacement in "The Last Shift."
Stanley (Richard Jenkins, ideal) trains Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie) as his substitution in “The Final Shift.”

The wrench in the plot is aided by Cohn’s selection to do absent with our normal fluorescent-mild association with fast-foodstuff restaurants and make Oscar’s brooding and shadowy. There can be french fries and suspense.

Jenkins, who has seemingly been in each and every film in the previous 20 years, is ordinarily tapped for authority figures or self-confident characters. Assume of his cigarette-using tobacco Nathaniel in HBO’s “Six Ft Below.” His mesmerizing Stanley, with downcast eyes, shaky speech designs and erratic actions, is the reverse. He’s a strange aged person who you’d be happy to see often at a takeout window, if not at any time as a dinner companion.

His head-butting with Jevon is truthful and intriguing. McGhie, whose eyes have these intensity, speaks like a experienced debater as he tries to convince him Oscar’s, which pays Stanley $13.50 an hour, has cheated the schlub out of dollars for a long time. The duo also argues about race in these a way where you see equally sides — a tall order.

What not to expect from this film, on the other hand, is grandiose emotions or Oscars-y shouts. It’s a lower-important rest-quit story that appreciates life’s banalities and the struggles of everyday individuals.

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