The Last Bus

Tim Spall is on strong, irascible form in The Last Bus, a winsome film about a widower, Tom, making a sentimental journey from his home in John O’Groats in Scotland, all the way back to Land’s End in his native Cornwall – using his free bus pass every one of the 900-odd miles.

All he has with him is a battered leather suitcase (containing his wife Mary’s ashes), a huge, fold-away map and his old-fashioned sense of dignity which is challenged along the way by rough youths, grumpy drivers and bumps in the road. Mostly, though, his determination to stick to his plan is treated with respect and, by the end of the trip, he’s become a viral celebrity – all unbeknownst to the mobile-phone-less Tom himself, of course.

Directed by Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky, Whisky Galore), we watch Britain crawl by out the window, from cities to blasted moors, and Spall turns in an unforgettable performance, balancing outrage, grief, stubborn pride and gruff wisdom without ever tipping into sentimentality.