Last Chance Harvey Review

"Last Chance Harvey" is a romantic dramedy showcasing two accomplished actors who rarely get to play lead roles anymore.

Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson - previously seen together supporting Will Ferrell in "Stranger Than Fiction" - play a pair of aging losers, Harvey and Kate.

They meet while Harvey, an American, is drowning his sorrows at a bar at a London airport where she works pestering travelers to answer survey questions (Harvey earlier blows her off on his arrival at Heathrow).

Never-married Kate, who's awkward meeting men and lives with an overbearing mother (Eileen Atkins), feels pretty sorry for herself.

But after trying to brush his approaches aside with mild insults, Kate has to admit Harvey has a worse hard-luck story.

Harvey's estranged only daughter (Liane Balaban) has chosen to have her stepfather (James Brolin) give her away at her wedding - sending the humiliated Harvey scurrying to the airport.

There, the frustrated jazz pianist misses the plane and learns he's lost his job writing jingles for TV commercials.

Kate reluctantly allows Harvey to tag along with her to a writing class - until she learns he's planning to skip his daughter's reception.

With Kate's moral support, Harvey shows up and delivers a beautiful toast - the movie's best scene. He even dances with his ex-wife (Kathy Baker).

It's obvious from the get-go that Kate and Harvey were made for each other - Hoffman and Thompson have great chemistry. To throw an obstacle in their path, the movie takes a familiar ploy straight out of "An Affair To Remember."

For some reason, airport reunions are a staple of British romantic comedies, and it comes as no surprise whatsoever that "Last Chance Harvey" is no exception. But in a season filled with grim dramas, older audiences could make a far worse choice.

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1 comment

Default avatar cat

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May 6, 2009 4:20AM EDT

I can see why other reviewers have called this movie boring: there are no chases, crashes, plot twists, sex scenes, or gut-busting laughs. What there is: a gentle movie featuring two wonderful actors doing superb work. Dustin Hoffman is Harvey, an old-school jingle writer who is refusing to read the writing on the wall, where his job is concerned. He flies to London where his American daughter and her American fiancé live and work, to attend the wedding. The trip starts out as something of a bust (he is somewhat cut-off from the rest of the family, for various reasons) until he meets Kate, a Heathrow Airport survey representative. Kate's life consists of her job, her writing class, her clinging mother and avoiding relationships (she is terrified of being hurt). Watching these two slowly yet quickly (it all takes place during the course of a couple of days) do the courtship dance is to see some very, very fine acting. This is a gentle, somewhat formulaic movie that would probably have not been made without these two leads. While all the actors are good, Thompson and Hoffman are what make this film.

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