Last Chance Harvey
review by Neo

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Year: 2008

Box Office: US$0 million

Director: Joel Hopkins

Producer: Tim Perell, Nicola Usborne

Writer: Joel Hopkins

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin

Genre: Romance Drama

Tagline: A blossoming romance that is captivated by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson…

Review by Neo: When someone decides to allude and relates any film to the little classic, Before Sunrise (1995), it is almost a certainty that it cannot be a bad film. The latest Dustin Hoffman’s flick Last Chance Harvey reminds me of that aforementioned movie and while not on the same scale of success, the movie ultimately works through some underlying realism in the performances of Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Hoffman’s restrained comic timing is perfectly complimented by Thompson’s sense of insecurity and protected responses. The film works, largely due to the character’s interactions, but there are also touching moments between the subplots, of the wedding reception, the subtle meetings between the two, and the experiences that are buried deep within both characters, that made them so compatible and believable.

The movie goes like this: Hoffman is a divorced musician, who works as a jingle commercial composer. On a trip to London to attend his daughter’s wedding, he realises that he is no longer needed in this world, losing his job, rejected by his daughter for the honours of walking down the aisle and topping it up by missing the flight back. However, all these misfortune led him to meet Thompson, a single lady who has been ignored in her own blind dates. Perhaps it is a case of two lost souls meeting at the right place and at the right time…

Hoffman is an expert in playing charming characters and here, it is probably one of his most likeable characters to date. It is almost impossible to dislike him and whenever he is onscreen, there is never a dull moment. This is despite Hoffman being 73, an age where heroes like Harrison Ford have caught up with age, but not him. His character is still willing to embrace change and the fact that he knows where he stands in his daughter makes it all the more interesting for the audience to discover. His chemistry with Emma Thompson is just spot on and the manner they met at the coffee shop in the airport, does not seem a tact forced, but rather one who is simply having a bad day.

Likewise, Emma Thompson is graceful enough to know about herself. The way she presented herself in awkward moments, such as the failed blind date, where she is sitting next to a bunch of 20-30s year old allows the audience to understand her character and her personality. Her insecurity when she first spoke with Hoffman is a joy to watch and to witness the two leads play off each other so seamlessly is just beautiful and easy to endure.

All in all, Last Chance Harvey is simply a good movie, without being great. While it is never on the scale of magic as in Before Sunrise, the chemistry is definitely there. Perhaps, if the director just played the movie with more focus on the conservations of the two, the movie may have gone to a different space, but for what’s it worth, Last Chance Harvey tells the audience to take your chances and as the cliché goes, it’s never too late. Quite simply, a relaxing movie to watch and a joy to witness two experienced campaigners at work … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 7/10

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