"The Last Night"
Directed by Richard Eyre
Written by John Logan
Original Score by James Newton Howard
Art Direction by Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer
Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran
Kate Winslet- Sister Banks
Julie Andrews- Reverend Mother
Emily Watson- Sister Rainer
Mark Ivanir- Amon Nagelstein
Martina Gedeck- Brigette Nagelstein
Giorgio Cantarini- Meyer Nagelstein
Dave Power- Captain Zeller
Tagline: "April 16th- The last night Meyer felt like living"
Synopsis: 1933- Sister Banks is a nun who despite her insecurities is quite an audacious young novice. Having lived in Germany during the beginning of the Hitler reign, she knows the excruciating ways of the Nazi’s and was able to escape to Austria where she is now living in Nonberg Abbey. The Reverend Mother was so gracious to let her live within the walls on one condition, she must live the life of a nun for at least one year before, if she chooses, to take her vows. After a year among the sisters, she decides that she to wants to devout her life to the Lord
Years pass and soon, Banks is bonds with Sister Rainer who also escaped from Germany. Both of the young novices are on their way to be asked to join the monastery, but the Anschluss is coming and all of the local Jews were to be deported soon, and the sisters knew they have to do something.
1939- With the beloved Reverend Mother’s blessing, the sisters decide to hide Jews in the convent. Not long after starting this endeavor however, Sister Rainer falls extremely ill and dies. The elderly Reverend Mother then steps in and helps Sister Banks in her effort. While, the women help many Jewish families, there was one that particularly touched Banks’ life. It was the Nagelstein family, who come to the conclusion that they must all help out as well and lend a hand to the loving nuns.
Captain Zeller has been appointed by Hitler himself to oversee all the men in Austria and to find any Jews who have been in hiding and extradite them immediately. He has also been ordered to kill anyone helping Jews and without question. While in Vienna, Captain Zeller receives a telegram from his men informing him that the Nonberg Abbey nuns have been protecting Jews from deportation. Zeller departs from Vienna without delay.
April 14th was as regular a day for the Reverend Mother and Sister Banks as it could be, until the Nazi’s rang the bell at the front gate. While the Reverend Mother gives the men a tour of the Abbey, Sister Banks goes to the basement to give the families there lunch for the day. The Reverend Mother finishes the tour, and goes back to her office, thinking that everything was alright, but then she hears yelling and knows what has happened; she hastily evacuates the nuns from the Abbey.
While waiting for Captain Zeller, Banks accidentally slips the information that the Reverend Mother helped with the protection of the Jews and she is arrested as well. That night, the two manage to escape from the men and during their escape the Reverend Mother slips and falls on the pavement. Banks tries to run back and help her but it is too late, she has been shot by Captain Zeller.
1946- Of the Jews that the Revered Mother, Sister Banks and Rainer hid, only Meyer survived, his mother and father were shot before even boarding the cart. Upon his return to Austria, he went back to Nonberg Abbey to thank the Reverend Mother and Sister Banks for all that they had done for his family. Upon reaching the Abbey, he found that they both had stones in the cemetery that he had slept in so many times before. Meyer laid there and cried himself to sleep, knowing that everyone in his life who had helped him, died, and all on the same day…
April 16, 1939
What the Press would say:
In 1993, Schindler’s List was released to wide critical and commercial acclaim and has now pretty much ruled the category of Holocaust films. However, director Richard Eyre brings us the gripping story of Sister Banks, who takes around 500 Jews into her care with the help of the dear old Reverend Mother. Filled with emotion, excitement, and transfixing performances’, The Last Night is the true definition of motion picture excellence. Brilliantly directed by veteran Richard Eyre, by the end product of the film it is evident the Eyre had everyone on the same page, and they were all ready to make movie magic. James Logan delivers a fantastic screenplay that is by far his best and really gives the actors a lot to work with.
Kate Winslet is marvelous in the role of Sister Banks and gives the performance of a lifetime. The material she was given was absolutely perfect for her and she takes it and runs miles. The girl has a god given talent that shouldn’t be ignored like it has in the past. Giorgio Cantarini, whom you know from Life is Beautiful, gives a spellbinding performance as the teen turned young man, Meyer and gives the adolescent performance of the year. It is truly remarkable the way he is able to hold his own in the cast of powerhouse performers. Which brings me to Dave Power who is deviously evil in the role of Captain Zeller is sure to have you yelling at the screen. His best performance to date that really shows that he has wide range. The real performance to be talking about is Julie Andrews however, who does a magnificent job as the Reverend Mother who puts her life on the line for people she doesn’t even know. The performance is outstanding and by far the best supporting performance of the decade.
The entire ensemble is terrific in their roles and the whole crew is wonderful as well. While in many cities this film is still in very few theaters, make sure you get your hands on a ticket because this is the one film of the year you don’t want to miss.
Best Director- Richard Eyre
Best Actress- Kate Winslet
Best Supporting Actor- Giorgio Cantarini
Best Supporting Actor- Dave Power
Best Supporting Actress- Julie Andrews
Best Original Screenplay
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Original Score