Last Chance Harvey Joel Hopkins

Last Chance Harvey Joel Hopkins
The back of the DVD informs you that Last Chance Harvey is the recipient of the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award. Previous winners include Flicka and I Am Sam, and unfortunately, despite the stellar cast Last Chance Harvey deserves its place beside these dubious heart warmers. This lone sappy stamp of approval sets the tone for what's to come. Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) is a lonely, work-obsessed commercial composer whose outdated classical scores are being replaced with more modern music (a pointedly obvious metaphor for Harvey's life). He travels to England to attend his daughter's wedding, only to watch her be given away by her stepfather, who she informs him, has been a bigger part of her life. Meanwhile, Kate (Emma Thompson) is trapped in her day-to-day existence, going through the motions of a thankless job taking surveys at Heathrow and venturing out on the occasional mediocre blind date. She spends her free hours guzzling chardonnay and reading trashy novels, which comes across as a cheap attempt at creating a quirky character. When Harvey loses his job and misses his flight back to L.A., he meets Kate in the airport bar and they strike up an adorably quarrelsome conversation. This may be Harvey and Kate's last chance to reverse their life patterns, as well as fall in love. With such a strong cast, including not only heavyweights Hoffman and Thompson but Eileen Atkins as Kate's paranoid mother and Kathy Baker as Harvey's ex-wife, one would think Last Chance Harvey would be a recipe for success. However, the downfall is that there's not much plot to speak of and the characters are too dull to hold your interest past five minutes. There is nothing stopping Harvey and Kate from getting what they want except their shortcomings, which makes them less than likable. Harvey is egocentric and antisocial; Kate is apathetic and boring. Not exactly a winning combination. In the only pithy special feature, the "making of" documentary "An Unconventional Feature," Thompson explains that writer/director Joel Hopkins wrote the parts for the actors based on their real life personalities. And it makes perfect sense. Although both are masters of embodying a character, Hoffman and Thompson don't have the most dynamic personalities, making their characters bland in a script where the only plot is their relationship. There is some interesting chatter about how Hoffman and Thompson applied their different processes to the film, which actors will no doubt find interesting. Accompanying the doc is a commentary with the writer and actors, and the U.S. trailer. (Alliance)