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

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.