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Last Chance Harvey In Review

Updated on May 11, 2011

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A Movie For Adults

Late Friday afternoon, I had the chance to see the new Emma Thompson/Dustin Hoffman movie, "Last Chance Harvey." As I consider them both to be fantastic actors, I would've happily gone to see this movie even if the previews looked lousy. The movie looked charming though and I eagerly anticipated it.

Set in modern day London, it tells the story of two middle aged singletons who are leading very unfulfilled lives.Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) is a wannabe jazz pianist who supports himself by writing jingles in America. Though she dreams about writing novels, Kate Walker (Emma Thompson) conducts passenger surveys for a British airline. As potential mates rarely meet amicably in movies, Harvey rudely turns down Kate's request for a survey. He is too preoccupied with what has brought him to London ( the wedding of his only daughter) to realize that he has just met someone special. When Harvey goes to his daughter's rehearsal dinner, it quickly becomes clear that he doesn't belong nor has he ever. After a disastrous blind date, Kate and the audience begin to wonder if she'll ever find someone. Only when Harvey and Kate meet up again do you start to feel like happiness is possible.

Though I'm in my early twenties and the bulk of the romantic comedies that have surfaced lately have been geared towards my age group, I feel like this was the first movie in awhile that seemed real. Unlike other movies that spread the false message that love is perfect on its own and requires no work, this movie reminds us that love is precious and hard to come by and will fail without attention. As Harvey made himself scarce when he was younger because he didn't feel worthy of/fit in with his wife and child, they have replaced him with a seemingly perfect man. As Kate has made her mother's welfare her main priority, she has lost out on having her own family. Both characters have spent so much time trying to become the vision of what they think the people around them want to see that they've lost sight of who they really are. After seeing so many romantic movies where the characters are self-absorbed and immature, it was refreshing to see a movie about people who are so chained to their families that their own happiness is compromised.

Though a tad predictable, I enjoyed this movie. Hoffman and Thompson have wonderful chemistry and don't try to upstage the other. You see their maturity both as actors and human beings clearly in the characters. To play such worn down characters, you know that love has broken them more than once. My only complaint with this movie is that it wasn't longer/the time wasn't used better. We see them as individuals for a chunk of the movie. We are repeatedly reminded that they are very alone and that the people around them are unappreciative. We are given a good idea of why they are how they are. Yet, we barely get to see them as a couple. We see the initial meeting that gives one reason to be nicer to strangers because you never know what kind of a role they may play in your life. We see their second meeting that turns into a lovely day together. We see slightly more and then it's black. Given another few pages in the script, these characters could've been so much more. Despite this one complaint, I enjoyed the movie and definitely recommend it.

It would be nice if more "mature" movies continued to show up at the cinema. Considering the type of movies currently offered, people with more than half a brain don't have many options. Would it be so bad if for every four typical movies one "Harvey esque" movie premiered? With the movie choices being what they are, its no wonder box office sales are down.


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