Last Chance Harvey

"Weak"

Last Chance Harvey Review


A film so mild-mannered it only occasionally registers a pulse, Joel Hopkins' Last Chance Harvey is best viewed as proof that not all filmed entertainment these days is nihilistic and grim. Occasionally there are still movies made about gentle, middle-aged people who have had a (mildly) hard time of things but still manage to find love in the gloaming of their years. The problem here being that mildness of heart does not translate into quality of art, or even entertainment.

The Hallmark-ready story begins with Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman), a borderline jerk of a guy who appears to have shut down on life by the time we find him. A jingle writer who once hoped for greater things musically, he's on his way to London where his daughter is marrying into a family that seems to have a greater affinity for his ex-wife's new husband than himself.

Set up on the y-axis of the meet-cute diagram is Kate Walker (Emma Thompson), a woman of depressed disposition who works at Heathrow when she's not fielding phone calls from a batty and lonely mother. Kate is the sort of character who is always being pushed into romance by co-workers who worry about her, but is sick of being disappointed by love, so would just rather stick with a good book and give the love a pass.

After far too long a setup, in which both Kate and Harvey (but particularly Harvey) undergo a series of increasingly uncomfortable humiliations, the two are finally tossed together in the same airport restaurant. Kate is getting over a particularly painful blind date experience, while Harvey has just left the wedding early to fly back to New York for work, only to find out that there's no job waiting for him anyway. And his flight was cancelled. Harvey does the logical thing: start drinking and flirt with the attractive woman reading a book over a lonely salad.

The budding romantic interlude that follows would have been easier to swallow had writer/director Hopkins not spent so much time establishing Harvey as an exceedingly unpleasant brand of jerk. Kate seems perfectly fine, a nice woman who has simply had a run of bad luck; it's no wonder that an exhausted and at-wit's-end man would fall for her. But the witty, intensely romantic Harvey who emerges after his moment of crisis is so unrecognizable from the self-centered guy who had so recently inhabited his skin that it's a hard transformation to swallow.

Hopkins establishes an unhurried mood early on, and so it's comparatively easy to watch Harvey and Kate wander the streets of London -- a strange place in the film's world, where Paddington Station appears to be a stone's throw from the Thames -- and bat light humor and mild flirtations back and forth. But the film is too light a creation to make believable their sudden infatuation, burying the glimmers of romance underneath schmaltz and manufactured obviousness.

Having both been relegated for too long to the status of prominently credited quality supporting actors, it's wonderful for both Hoffman and Thompson that they are allowed to take hold of the screen and leave nobody with any doubts that they are stars in every sense of the word. Of course, it would have been nice had they chosen a better vehicle for such an endeavor, but you can't have everything in life.

Tonight... make it Michelob Light.



Last Chance Harvey

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 2009

Box Office USA: $14.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $14.9M

Distributed by: Overture Films

Production compaines: Process Productions, Overture Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 108 Rotten: 45

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Joel Hopkins

Producer: , Nicola Usborne,

Starring: as Harvey Shine, as Kate Walker, as Maggie Walker, as Jean, as Susan Shine Wright, as Scott Wright, as Brian, as Marvin, Wendy Mae Brown as Aggie, as Oonagh, as Matt, as Scott, as Simon, as Josh Hillman, as Peter Turner, as Doctor Butler, as Melissa, Charlotte Lucas as Gwen, Gaia Wise as Girl at Wedding, Imogen Byron as Niece at Wedding, Ginny Holder as Nurse, as Friend of the Bride, Tolula Adeyemi as Monique the Jazz Singer, as Sarah

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.