Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker, James Brolin
Written and Directed by Joel Hopkins
Last Chance Harvey opens as Harvey Shine (Hoffman) travels to London for his daughter’s wedding. Upon arriving at the rehearsal dinner, Harvey finds it will be his daughter’s stepfather (James Brolin) who will be giving the bride away. Though disheartened, it is clear Harvey knows he was always lacking as a father and husband. Only staying for the ceremony, Harvey rushes to catch a flight home for an important business meeting. He misses the flight and subsequently loses his job. In an attempt to drown his sorrows, Harvey goes to an airport bar and meets Kate Walker (Thompson).
The storyline isn’t fresh: boy meets girl, boy woos girl through a series of awkward and heart-warming events; though the film has a certain charm, elegance and an undeniable power in its Academy Award-winning cast.
Hoffman gives a subtle and charming performance as Harvey Shine. While another might portray him as uncomfortable and awkward in his often bumbling actions, Hoffman makes him endearing.
Kate is a single woman who seems very unlucky in love, and in life for that matter. She has a codependent relationship with her mother, a job she doesn’t like, and one of her only joys seems to be a writing class she is enrolled in. Somehow Thompson is able to give a strength to Kate despite her visible vulnerability.
This movie is a romantic comedy, a ’grown-up’ love story, painted with clich’, but it is also a story of self-discovery and hope. It is comfortable in its predictability and the audience is able to sit back to laugh and cry with the characters.
Director Joel Hopkins’ pace is steady, never rushed. Viewers are able to anticipate what will happen before it does though somehow still leave with a renewed sense of optimism.
Last Chance Harvey is a film about second chances and seizing opportunity. It is sweet and funny and its message is clear: it’s never too late to open your heart or change your life. Cliche? Yes. Worth seeing? Absolutely.