'Last Chance' has its charms
A great script can never save bad acting, but once in a while, great acting can save a stinker story.
That's the case with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson in "Last Chance Harvey," an implausible, cliche-ridden, paper-thin, over-the-hill romance story. It's a meaningless flick, really, but Hoffman and Thompson deliver such rich work that they have both been nominated for Golden Globes. It's worth a trip to the theater to see two charming, old-school pros show how it is done.
Hoffman's Harvey Shine is an aging New Yorker who never realized his dream to be a famous pianist, and is now stuggling to stay employed writing commercial jingles. He is bound for London for his daughter's marriage - one of the few strong scenes of this plot has Harvey taking the gut-shot of being told by his daughter that she wants her stepfather, played by Josh Brolin, to be the one to give her away.
Harvey by chance encounters Thompson's lonely-heart airport worker Kate, who suffers through humilating blind dates and pressure from her clingly, slightly-insane mother.
Strangely, the movie departs from itself here - Harvey is supposedly a failure at love and life, but when it comes time to court Kate for a weekend affair, this 70-something romeo comes off like Richard Gere on love steroids, so smooth and charming and aggresive, it's nearly stalking.
Thompson is awfully pretty to be a hopeless sprinster, but gets the meatier role - she has to play both desperate and disinterested; both quiet and love-starved.
There isn't a lot there to work with in a pretty shallow story, but Hoffman and Thompson make the best of it, and it's a tribute to their skills that this drivel isn't at all painful to watch.
* "Last Chance Harvey," now showing in the area. Rated PG-13. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Our score: Two stars out of five