Last Chance Harvey

2008

Drama / Romance

0
IMDb Rating 6.7

Synopsis


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1.77G
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English
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92 min
P/S 0 / 0
1.12G
Normal
English
/
92 min
P/S 0 / 0

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by artzau 8

What can we say about Dustie Hoffman and Emma Thompson? Here are 2 of the best in the profession laying out roles of two disaffected people who encounter in their disparate desperation and find in themselves something to come to grips with who they are. The interesting thing, is that this is a plot line that could be a stinker if played out wrong. The whole story drips with sentiment wrought by the conflict of aging, adrift in meaningless careers and embellished by the idea of being "losers." The story line has no great leaps, little action and unfolds in a potentially boring setting and what saves it is the performance of these two great veterans who give the yin and yang of two different people who compliment each other. This is a great movie. Go see it.

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Reviewed by Chris Knipp 7

On the face of it Last Chance Harvey, helmed by the virtually unknown English director Joel Hopkins, is a mere piece of frippery, a little tale of a chance encounter in an airport between a man and woman of a certain age on the rebound from disappointment, something we&#39;ve seen dozens of times. But the masterful acting of Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, and the restraint of a script that could be maudlin or cutesy but never is, make the film not only entertaining and watchable but even touched by moments of grace.<br/><br/>Harvey Shine (Hoffman) is a composer of TV jingles who may be out of work. When he goes London to attend his daughter&#39;s wedding, he learns she has chosen her stepfather, Brian, to give her away. Amid these humiliations Harvey runs into Kate Walker (Thompson), who works doing surveys of passengers passing through Heathrow.<br/><br/>Thompson is playing an old maid saddled with a mother (the great Aileen Atkins) worried about her &quot;situation&quot; and also suspicious of a Polish neighbor she thinks may be a new Jack the Ripper. She calls all the time. Harvey keeps getting calls from his New York agent, but they&#39;re never encouraging. This cell phone shtick is unoriginal wallpaper. None of the developments is thought provoking or surprising. But the film avoids pushing too hard and thus gains credibility, at least in the personalities. Liane Balaban, as Susan, Harvey&#39;s daughter and the bride, has a credible restraint and sweetness. She is decent to Harvey, even as she has cooperated in his virtual exclusion from her marriage celebration. Kathy Baker plays Jean, Harvey&#39;s ex-wife, with poise and elegance.<br/><br/>At the center is Hoffman. He never plays for bathos. He woos Kate with delicate humor. His sense of defeat is only partial. This may be his &quot;last chance&quot; both to be a presence at his daughter&#39;s nuptials and to find a woman who will care about him, but though the screenplay puts him out on a limb, it doesn&#39;t coat him in desperation. He takes taxis everywhere, and stays at a nice hotel. He conveys an aura of quiet pluck. His little smiles are never forced; he&#39;s good humored. Beyond that, Hoffman has moments of stillness more beautiful than any actor&#39;s fussy line readings.<br/><br/>I guess you could call this a bittersweet comedy. Despite a scene that verges on the maudlin when Harvey speaks at the wedding reception, the film&#39;s skill is in the way it averts all disasters. The adeptness with which the two principals stay away from ever pushing too hard is the essence of good film acting. Last Chance Harvey may not make a deep impression but that slight memory it leaves behind is a good one. It will do to while away an afternoon. With Dustin and Emma, one is in good hands. _________________

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Reviewed by Howard Schumann 8

While Joel Hopkins&#39; Last Chance Harvey does not break any new ground, it contains some very unusual features for a romantic comedy: lovers who are over fifty years old and estranged family members who treat each other with civility. The film is about second chances and, in this case, perhaps third or fourth chances, and reminds us that it is never too late to turn our lives around or to clean up past mistakes. Dustin Hoffman (who is 71) pursues Emma Thompson (who is 49 and a few inches taller than him) but the relationship neither feels awkward nor strained thanks to the magnificent performances by these accomplished actors who truly inhabit their characters.<br/><br/>Both Harvey Shine (Hoffman) and Kate Walker (Thompson) at this stage in their lives seem to be lost but carry on with determination. Harvey is a wannabe jazz pianist who has settled for work writing jingles for commercials but obviously feels that he has missed his calling. Divorced from his wife Jean (Kathy Baker) and estranged from his daughter Susan (Liane Balaban), Harvey is traveling to London to attend his daughter&#39;s wedding but dreads the reunion. Meanwhile, his boss (Richard Schiff) comments about the new young people coming into the company, presumably thinking they can improve on Harvey&#39;s performance. When Harvey tells his boss that he is going to London for the weekend for the marriage of his only daughter, he warns him that there will be consequences if he does not return on Monday.<br/><br/>When Harvey arrives at his hotel expecting to find the wedding party, he finds that everyone else is staying at a mansion rented by his daughter&#39;s wealthy stepfather Brian (James Brolin). Seething inside, Harvey still manages to show good cheer at the reception, that is, until he receives a double dose of bad news: Susan tells him that she is going to have Brian give her away and a phone call from his job tells him that he is being let go from his job. To perk up his spirits, after missing his flight back to JFK, Harvey meets Kate (Thompson) in the airport bar. Kate (who has never married) works for a statistics company interviewing arriving passengers on incoming flights at Heathrow and had been refused an interview by Harvey when he first arrived.<br/><br/>Both are disappointed in life, Kate&#39;s spirits being especially down after she was ignored during a blind date and created an excuse to leave early. The unlikely pair open up to each other, however, and begin a relationship based on mutual need. Their all-night walk around London saves them the awkwardness of having to go to a hotel together and gives the viewer a lovely montage of the city, their conversation only interrupted by phone calls from Kate&#39;s mother Maggie (Eileen Atkins) who has recently recovered from cancer and is paranoid about a new Polish neighbor.<br/><br/>Kate convinces Harvey to attend his daughter&#39;s wedding reception in a charming scene marred only by a clichéd montage of Kate trying on different gowns in the dress store. When Harvey brings Kate to the reception, he seems to have a new level of confidence and his wedding toast to his daughter is extremely touching. At this point, many things could go wrong but do not. As Andrew Sarris has pointed out, &quot;In these times of institutionalized bad manners on screen and off, it is refreshing to see a movie smoothly returning to an age of courtesy and courtliness leavened by wit and genuine sincerity.&quot; While Last Chance Harvey will never be confused with great romantic comedy, it is heartfelt and sincere, and its message that people at all ages have the power to transform the quality of their lives left me with a smile.

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