[Film Review] Last Chance Harvey (2008)

Last Chance Harvey poster.jpg

Title: Last Chance Harvey
Year: 2008
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Director/Writer: Joel Hopkins
Music: Dickon Hinchliffe
Cinematography: John de Borman
Cast:
Dustin Hoffman
Emma Thompson
Eileen Atkins
Kathy Baker
Liane Balaban
James Brolin
Richard Schiff
Michael Landes
Bronagh Gallagher
Daniel Lapaine
Jeremy Sheffield
Patrick Baladi
Adam James
Nadia Cameron-Blakey
Rating: 6.8/10

Last Chance Harvey 2008

Not that infamous Harvey W., who doesn’t merit a last chance at any rate, this is his fellow American, the amicable Harvey Shine (Hoffman, who ironically, has been mired in his own misconduct scandal in the MeToo era), a divorced, middle-aged musician specializes in writing jingles for commercial use, who plans to spend a weekend to attend his daughter’s wedding in London, but ends up extending his stay indefinitely when romance beckons.

Contemporaneously in London, Kate Walker (Thompson), an unmarried airport staff, is the cynosure of her mother Maggie’s (Atkins) idle life (save for suspecting her new Polish neighbor is a corpse-hoarding killer), buffeted with the latter’s unremitting phone calls, and just when Harvey comes in for a politely reserved reception in the dinner before the wedding, Kate is subjected to an awkward blind date that doesn’t go anywhere, their binary trajectories are self-evident in verging together later (actually they had a short encounter in the airport and an odd chance as sequential passengers of a taxi), but before that comes to the fore, British director Joel Hopkins has something to flog to death.

So, everything must plunge to the absolute nadir for Harvey before it bottoms out, he is wantonly secluded from the rest of the wedding guests, apparently under the behest of his ex-wife Jean (Baker), and is dwarfed by the latter’s current hubby Brian (a none other than James Brolin, the silver fox and Mr. Barbra Steisand himself), both in appearance and in close affinity with his daughter Susan (Lapaine), who does have the temerity to ask Harvey to waive his fatherly right of leading her to the alter; across the Atlantic, his boss Marvin (Schiff) twists the knife in his wound by firing him on the phone when Harvey misses the plane after a low-key presence of Susan’s wedding ceremony.

If one can survive those aforementioned heavy-handed and cookie-cutter build-up, everything definitely lightens up from the chance meeting between Harvey and Kate in the airport bar with a quirky stiff-upper-lip mimicry as the icebreaker, whereupon, in the successful mode of Richard Linklater’s BEFORE… trilogy, their growing interaction plays out through incessant but significantly less philosophical small talk, until Kate encourages and accompanies him to attend Susan’s wedding reception in the evening, a fairly pleasant familial reconciliation is chalked up, but the next day, a hiccup nearly ruins their budding romance, and guess who has the say-so in the end?

Both Hoffman and Thompson sustain their roles brilliantly with either a fish-out-of-water awkwardness meld with affable sincerity or a touching vulnerability that only hints at past baggage, and their niceties of vamping up even the hoariest happenstances pay dividends in this workmanlike love story for grow-ups who might look for a second chance or a fresh start.

referential entries: Nancy Meyers’ IT’S COMPLICATED (2009, 6.0/10); Peter Chelsom’s SERENDIPITY (2001, 6.7/10)

One thought on “[Film Review] Last Chance Harvey (2008)

  1. Pingback: [Film Review] A Late Quartet (2012) – Cinema Omnivore

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