HomeNetflixIs the Last Bus based on a true story?

Is the Last Bus based on a true story?

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The Last Bus is a 2021 drama film directed by Gillies MacKinnon. It was released in February 2022 and is available to stream on Netflix.

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The Last Bus Plot

The Last Bus Plot
The Last Bus Plot

The story is about a man who following his wife’s demise decides to retrace the bus journey that took them from Land’s End to John O’Groats decades earlier. The old man, Tom Harper is one of those people who says little while conveying a lot. Throughout this long journey of his, half-way through he stays in a scruffy hotel for the night and notices a crucifix right above his bed. While Jesus himself pleaded with his father as he was dying, “why hast thou forsaken me?” Tom, who has already gone through a lot and endured all sorts of pain, suffering, and losses casually looks at the figure of the cross and utters an “Alright?”.

The film moves from open moorland with an old, hut-like bus stop replete with honestly box fruit and veg to inner-city double-deckers and local minibusses, with Tom (Spall) always immaculate in terms of his physical appearance and dressed tidily in an organized way. He was always decked up in a shirt, tie, jacket and overcoat. And of course, at all times held this small case which had his late wife’s ashes close to his heart as in this way he was traveling with her in all those places again. He was carrying her ashes from their long-time home in Scotland to their original home in Cornwall.

It’s like he is taking a journey through his own past and goes on a nostalgic trip. It’s the reverse of the journey they took in 1952, with early scenes showing young Tom and his beautiful wife Mary going north (by bus) to escape from some horrifying events which haven’t been revealed yet.

The past shows them moving into a little cottage and the whole transformation of a young Tom and young Mary and her glorious coat, and later an elderly Mary in a mustard scarf through the flashbacks we see, dot the film — including a more recent trip to the hospital for one of Mary’s cancer diagnosis appointments where she is seen, desperately, asking about how much time does she have remaining.

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Now that Mary is dead, Tom has brought her back to their original home which is a place Mary strongly refused to return to unless she dies.

Along the way, Old Tom meets citizens of 21st century Britain, though they are often heavily-drawn stereotypes, their interactions to fight issues of racism, help a youngster with his relationship issues, and also fix a broken-down bus. But the interesting twist is, that Tom has absolutely no knowledge about all these encounters of his being filmed and constantly posted on social media.

One such brief connection was when Tom was unable to hand over his bloodied cotton handkerchief to a weeping young woman sitting next to him on the bus, so he silently puts his arm around her and she sobs on his shoulder. All of Tom’s tragedies are revealed to us gradually and very delicately often trying to mislead our perceptions throughout the movie. Likewise, those social media aspects, which are occasional and muted, do eventually come into their own.

Despite the warm-hearted people he encounters and the help he receives, it’s somehow a dangerous and risky trip at the same time, and by the end, Tom seems to be somewhat of a half man, half hospital dressing, held together by STERIS trips and scabs.’

It is about a couple and their beautiful journey inclusive of all the pains and grey areas it saw.

Is The Last Bus real?

Is The Last Bus real
Is The Last Bus real

Despite the premise, this is not a ‘Based on a true story’ film. Writer Joe Ainsworth got the basic idea for the film after overhearing a jokey conversation between his father and his father-in-law about how they could misuse their bus passes.

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The Last Bus Cast

  • Phyllis Logan as Mary
  • Timothy Spall as Tom
  • Morgan Ingram as Fran
  • Celyn Jones as Doctor Martin

The Last Bus Reception

The Last Bus is a lighthearted movie that takes the audience through a journey of nostalgic events and has received mixed(tending to the disappointing side) reviews from the audience for a one-time watch purpose. It has a rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and the critic’s consensus stated “Not even typically brilliant work from Timothy Spall is enough to keep The Last Bus from sputtering into disappointment.” The Last Bus has an IMDb rating of 6.5/10.

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Elina Chakraborty
Elina Chakraborty
Elina is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in computer science engineering and working towards bettering herself and knowing herself in the process too. She's a big movie buff and enjoy reading and writing. She's curious and love to explore all varieties of genres and to know about random things in general. Art, be it in form of cinema, literature, music is very therapeutic to her.

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