The Last Supper


‘…this likably cartoonish view of the schisms of society has more than a little truth behind it….’

Why can’t we all just get along? In 2021, it feels like the gaps between everyone with an opinion are widening; polarisation is the fancy word for this. With life largely restricted to the four walls of our houses, lockdown or not, it’s a perfect opportunity to drop friendships, demonise casual acquaintances, and turn the levels of hate up to eleven. Stacy Title’s 1995 comedy The Last Supper is one of the few films that specifically addresses that divide; her film examines the yawning chasm in thinking between between Republican and Democrat, a feud that my extensive investigations reveal is on-going to this day.

Not much loved by anyone but me, The Last Supper takes place in a largely one-room setting, and focuses on a group of liberals led by Jude (Cameron Diaz). They have dinner parties once a week, and a surprises guest arrives in the form of Desert Storm veteran Zack (Bill Paxton). Zack is a Holocaust denier, and when he pulls a knife and threatens the group, they manage to overpower and kill him. Having discovered the warm and fuzzy feeling they get from dispatching one of the other side, the group decide to make their executions a weekly event, inviting all manner of conservatives for dinner and a dash of poison. A system of coloured glasses is used so that if the guest makes a convincing case for their survival, they can be spared by the collective will of the group. But the bodies pile up in the cherry orchard outside the garden, it seems like the quality of mercy is significantly strained, at least until the arrival of loquacious and combative conservative talk-show host Norman Arbuthnot (Ron Perlman)….

A good mid-90’s movie at my local flea-pit, The Last Supper has something to offend everyone; the guest shots are one-shot cameos, but manage to cover religious homophobia (Charles Durning), misogyny (Mark Harmon), climate change (Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander), anti-abortion and other still relevant issues du jour. But it’s worth remembering that this is a comedy, and that the liberals are the ones being skewered here; the monster of intolerance is captured in action here, and it’s not lurking down a one-way street. Perlman tears it all up when he arrives, turning the deadly game on its head; what’s refreshing here is that all sides are articulate, and it’s fun to hear the arguments.

It’s human nature to feel that things have never been worse than today; it’s also educational to see that in a recognisably modern world without social media, phones or even computers, people are at each other’s throats like this. Black comedy is the hardest comedy to manage, but Title really pulls this off, with tension, laughs and a great final involving a phone-call at gun-point and the use of The Toys’ A Lover’s Concerto. There’s lots of films designed to make us angry, but few that aim to defuse that bomb; The Last Supper has a minimal reputation, but this likably cartoonish view of the schisms of society has more than a little truth behind it.



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  1. This was a tight little film and a surprise second movie from Diaz after hitting the big time with The Mask. The kind of picture you make to prove you can act and also that you are big enough to get an arthouse-type picture made. There was certainly enough contention to go round and the kind of film that you rarely see now, even in the arthouses. Somebody has to be blamed for “Things never being as bad as this”. It used to be miniskirts, then pot, now it’s the internet. Give the misanthrope a spotlight and he/she will take it.

  2. When I watched it in the 90s I was confused…is it black Poli comedy satire, mockumentary spoof, or?..?? I was hoping for newish Dinner with Andre with Babette Feast appetizers and a wicked palate cleanse using scenes from Fried Green Tomatoes. Astute assessment describing what this really is, a spell of indigestion gone wrong…a soupçon of Practical Magic and several courses of fractured fairy fables fit for 2021 …and every year previous, except for…
    Why hasn’t this become a cult fav? If it was 15 minutes shorter perhaps? Perlman is fabulous, the beast with a different face? I had other plans, but d#$&, will be throwing impromptu dinner bash tonite, inviting over least fav neighbors for dinner and a movie. Yep, Music lyrics were priceless, except for Carpenters song on credits role. I’d Love to Change the World requires slug of antacid drank from blue bottle…

    • I’ll argue the toss about the credits; Shonen Knife cover the Carpenter’s song, and if you ask me, are clearly mocking the sugar-sweet lyrics. But Perlman really is fabulous here, completely upending the scheme like an applecart…it seems that what we need is UK governent schemes to promote female film-makers, rather than looking at the actual great films that women have made; Title died a couple of years back, and never saw films like this gain the cult following they deserved…

  3. “It’s human nature to feel that things have never been worse than today; it’s also educational to see that in a recognisably modern world without social media, phones or even computers, people are at each other’s throats like this.”

    So true. While working my way through old movies for my blog, it’s amazing how many time I find myself muttering, “The more things change….”

    Never saw this one or heard of it, but I’m definitely going to check it out….anything that reminds me “we’ve been here before and made it though” I find uplifting in 2021.

    • Great comment! So in my 20’s when I saw this, and I understood but didn’t relate that closely to the political angst shown here. But it’s something of a revelation to see a Republican vs Democrat hatefest that suggests that things have NEVER been as bad as this. Of course, it’s generally a media thing to create crama where there is none by saying that THINGS HAVE NEVER BEEN SO BAD! Specifically it’s interesting to me to see a modern world with Cameron Diaz in it but no phones or internet; that actually happened! But I frequently blame the horrible turn society seems to be taking on the internet, so I agree, it’s worth remembering that we got through stuff like this!

  4. Sounds like an early version of The Hunt. You’re right that it’s not on the radar though. I never saw it, though at least I sort of remember hearing about it at the time.

    • I think the link to the blu-ray comes in at about $35, so it’s clearly not been re-issued much. Most films that deal with politics seem to settle on one side or another, I like that this one scores points attacking both sides; it’s got a bit of The Secret History too in the story of a liberal group eliding their responsibility for murder. A Renaisance man like yourself should find something here to enjoy if you can find it; I bought it for £1 in a charity shop.

    • Yup, this is provocative for sure, but it’s an equal opportunities offender, since the liberals turn out to be intolerant, and the conservative they plan to kill turns out to have the perfect argument to defuse their wayward ideology. So many films try and put you down a rabbit hole, I like this one because it tries to pull you out. Admitting errors is the first step towards a better understanding of things IMHO.

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