Published Jan 15, 2009Sure to seriously piss off anyone who likes their movies pretentious, ambiguous, overly stylized and emotionally devoid, Last Chance Harvey is, at times, corny and a little contrived, acting as a slightly more formulaic Before Sunrise for the over 45 crowd, but captures that sense of feeling out-of-place and left behind in life that rings true.
Characters reveal themselves through conversation choices and reaction rather than endless back-story and exposition - some will call the film underwritten and others will praise it for its sincerity. These in-the-moment characterizations are handled impeccably by Emma Thompson, who brings her character to life and almost manages to draw in and justify some of the more ham-fisted and broad aspects of Dustin Hoffman's less nuanced performance.
This humanity-based centre is important, as the film is essentially a love story between the titular Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) and Kate Walker (Emma Thompson), two people who once had it all but have now given up on the possibility of newfound amour. Helping to give this connection some breadth on Kate's end are her evident social insecurities and a dependent relationship with her mother (Eileen Atkins), who in turn believes her new neighbour to be killing people and barbequing them.
On Harvey's side, things are considerably worse, having lost his job and having travelled to England for his daughter's (Liane Balaban) wedding only to find that she asked her step-father (James Brolin) to give her away.
While far from great, featuring an actual dress-up montage with Ms. Thompson, Last Chance Harvey is at least satisfying and pleasant, asking little of the audience but offering up a congenial romance with a great deal of truth, even if that truth might occasionally be gag-inducing.
Action-loving boys and gum-chewing tweens need not apply, as this one is strictly for those who have lived a bit of life and want a nice pick me up. (Alliance)