Synopsis: training a young black man named Javon. Stan, career graveyard shift worker at a hole in the wall fast food place in a small town in Michigan is a creative and tightly wound allegory for race relations in rural America. He is a normal and passive man who rarely speaks out in protest against anyone.
Stan’s friend Dale, played by Ed O’Neil, is the allegory for the things that people Stan’s age who never moved on really think. – stuck in the past and unable to speak out when they need which is the back bone of this film. “What kinda name is javon?” Dale says when they first learn of Stan’s replacement.
On its surface the last shift is a American story about a man who has given his whole life to his career a man who never really changed anything too much and at the very end of leaving his shift to go take care of his mother across the country he must train a new night shift manager to fill his shoes. What this film does to shine is it’s precise subtext about race relations in America. The main character Stan who lives in a small rural town in Michigan and his high school friend who talked about the old times are actually allegories for white and black race relations. Stan represents the people who witness racism and do nothing and therefore cannot move on which is the message of this movie. His friend represents the more aggressive reaction to race relations the kind of person that says things like what the hell kind of name Javon. And other things like that. Javon is a kid who has made mistakes but continues to try to improve his life despite his circumstances. He has a kid and still lives at home and also is on probation for past mistakes. Despite this Javon is a confident and good worker who straddles line of a stereotypical black man on screen. The allegory of Javon is race relations in modern times. Stan and Javons connection that brings the film together in a unified message about race relations happens when a story about how a kid named Ricky was beaten to death at Stan and javons High School in Albion Michigan. The main fold of this movie comes up during a scene when Javon asks Stan about the incident. Stan ran away from the incident and said nothing in court about Ricky’s death and that is the message of this film Stan chose to not do anything about race relations when they were at their worst and Stan’s friend from high school also did nothing and never chose to even question why he didn’t do anything. And the Arc of the story brings Stan to a point where he asks his old high school friend and he says ” of course we shouldn’t have said anything about it” and I like that because the message of this film is right in that conversation where the question of race relations in whether to say anything about racism or not is always denied every time the question is asked it’s always a no we shouldn’t say anything. I really enjoyed this film because it had multiple layers and a voice underneath the actual story being told which is my favorite element of film. At the end of the movie Stan steals money from his job and because of his tenure he is not blamed and Javon who is on his last chance with his probation officer is instantly blamed for taking the money which loses his job and he’s threatened with going back to jail to serve out the rest of his sentence. And Stan who allegorically steals from Black America again ultimately doesn’t get to where he’s going because he hasn’t idealistically moved on from doing something about racism in America.
I guess my only criticism about this film is the exposition in the First Act was a little slow and there was a curious scene in the second act where Devon says something that dates the film to a point he says man that’s crazy what is going on in Flint right now meaning Flint Michigan during the protests there. I felt like this was a little bit of a, not a pandering but a forced way to give viewers a clue as to what the message of the film is.
Both Stan and Jevon did absolutely amazing jobs acting in this film every part of the cast was really incredible I was invested in this film for the entire duration even though thinking about it I’d say the pacing of this film was Napoleon Dynamite slow. That being said the subtext and the layering of this story was expertly done and that’s why I really enjoyed this film.
Cinema Film | 9/10 | Great Story, Great Message