3 February 2009 | Michael_Elliott
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
**** (out of 4)
Dustin Hoffman plays Harvey Shine, a man on his way to London for his daughter's wedding but at home facing problems with his job. When he lands in London he learns that his daughter doesn't want him walking her down the aisle. Hurt, he goes to the airport bar where he meets a woman (Emma Thompson) also facing her own share of problems. The two hit it off and head out for the night hoping they can find comfort in each other. I wasn't sure what to expect walking into this movie but it was certainly very worthwhile and I must admit that this was one of the most memorable movies of 2008. The movie isn't brilliant but I don't think it was trying to be. The movie doesn't have a lot to say about relationships nor is it trying to be deep or thoughtful. The movie just tries to be entertaining and lets two great actors do their thing and the end result is something very moving, touching and at times funny. I was really surprised at how depressing the movie was but the screenplay allows both characters, and for that matter the viewer, to hit rock bottom in depression because the eventual climb up. I give screenwriter/director Hopkins a lot of credit for trying to stay as real as possible without trying to go over the top with any of its subject matter. To me the film felt very real and that's hard to find these days especially for a romantic comedy. Hoffman, one of our greatest character actors, does a masterful job here and really turns in his most memorable performance in several years. It was so much pleasure seeing Hoffman work this character because of the charm and pain he brings to the role. I've always found Hoffman to be a great comic actor and working with charm is a strong suit for him and that's on full display here. That smile of his mixed with his swooning ways were great to watch and he really nails it. The depressing scenes are brilliantly done as well with Hoffman replying a lot on facial gestures and not words. Many of these depressing scenes are done without words so Hoffman must rely on other emotions. Thompson is just as good and keeps up with Hoffman making the two the perfect couple that you really want to see together. Thompson's issues in the film are a lot different than Hoffman's but she too is able to be charming, funny and sad as well. Kathy Baker, James Brolin and Richard Schiff are all very good in their supporting roles. Again, this is the type of film that just lets the actors do their thing and to me it really comes off excellent in the end. I didn't like what happened to Hoffman's character towards the end as I felt the movie should have ended the scene earlier but this is just a minor issue. Seeing Hoffman and Thompson work their magic was great fun even though the more depressing scenes. It's a shame to see this movie not doing so well at the box office but it's true people enjoy more lightweight stuff. Oh well, as it's really their loss.