Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins
Director: Joel Hopkins
Writer: Joel Hopkins
Cinematography: John De Borman
Original Score: John De Borman
Running Time: 96 Mins.
It was never really destined to be a masterpiece or at the very least, a film to buck the romantic comedy trend, despite starring two of the best actors of their generation there is very little getting over the fact that Last Chance Harvey is very much a rom-com for the over 40’s, this would be the point at which I’d love to say But no it is so much more, though in truth there reaaly isn’t. Not that this is a crime just that you can’t help but hope that two actors of there calibre would be able to find something a little more substantial to act alongside each other in.
Twee and whimsical are hardly glowing endorsements but that is exactly the tone that Last Chance Harvey settles into once it finds its feet in London, no, correction, Richard Curtis’s view of London. Sharing many of the sensibilities of said producer/director’s output this is the picture postcard London we all love to see but know is ultimately unreal inhabited by the usual stereotypes, and the kind of people who go to book groups in their lunch hour and spend evenings on blind dates in quaint pubs, the likes of which only appear in London.
If this all seems a little harsh it isn’t meant to be, more that the lower your expectation the more you will enjoy, into this warped fairytale London comes Hoffman’s Harvey, a down on his luck jingle “musician, losing his job and in London to find his daughter is to be given away at her wedding by none other than…her step father. Could a man be any more down trodden? Well no, but a woman can be, Thompson who is all to sparsely onscreen lately should be cherished furthermore for this reason here. She is an eternal singleton with only her job and mother filling her apparently dead-end life that has a severe dearth of male companionship.
Hoffman, as expected, plays Harvey to perfection with his down at heel eyes teasing those tears from you as he is further knocked into the ignonymy until, stage left, Thompson enters his life to give him purpose meaning and a new found love. and vice versa. And that really is about it, the joy here though is seeing two rather fantastic and hugely watchable actors share screentime, it takes a while to come but when it does they are a joy to watch, yes neither really pushes themselves and Hoffman does look a tad old for Thompson but they both seem so at ease it is like watching a couple of old friends rekindle their love.
Hopkin’s direction is as pedestrian as his script but if all he intended to do was point and shoot, he succeeded, but the material is so flimsy that you really just wish these two stalwarts had something much more meaty to get stuck into.
Hard not to enjoy but equally disappointing that it doesn’t push it’s stars a little more, if a whimsical time in “Curtis” style London is what you want, albeit with some of the film world’s best talent in front of the camera, you could do much worse than spending time with Last Chance Harvey.