Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Chance Harvey (2009) [PG-13] ****-

Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) is an over-the-hill jingle writer from White Plains, NY. He's in London to attend the wedding of his daughter Susan (Liane Balaban). Harvey's estranged ex-wife Jean (Kathy Baker) and her husband Brian (James Brolin) are there, as well as Susan and her fiance Scott's close friends. They're all staying in a rented house, except for Harvey who's in a hotel.

At the pre-wedding evening cocktail party, Harvey learns that Susan wants her stepfather Brian to give her away. Disappointed and embarrassed, Harvey decides that the following day he'll come to the wedding ceremony but will skip the reception and fly home. Delayed by traffic, Harvey misses his flight to New York, and then learns that he's lost his job. Lonely, alienated and discouraged, Harvey finds himself in a Heathrow Airport bar and recognizes the airport survey taker, Kate Walker (Emma Thompson) whom he had brushed off the day before.

Kate is dealing with her own problems; she spends her days trying to survey harried travelers at Heathrow, while answering her overbearing mother's constant stream of cell phone calls, and ignoring the inevitable approach of her own spinsterhood. Harvey engages Kate in conversation, and after the ice has broken between them, what begins is a heartwarming and completely believable friendship between two mature adults who've experienced a lifetime of relationship disappointments and have every reason to be wary of beginning yet another one.

Hoffman and Thompson have terrific chemistry, and while their growing attraction for one another, together with the ensuing misunderstandings and complications, is predictable, it is also a compelling, enjoyable story. If you liked Will Ferrell's romantic comedy Stranger Than Fiction, and you wondered how that film's characters played by Hoffman and Thompson (literature professor and novelist, respectively), might develop a romantic attraction for one another, Last Chance Harvey offers a possible storyline. And if you simply like gentle, low-key character-driven romantic comedy-dramas about lonely strangers who are drawn to each other on trains or airplanes, in airports or hotels, films like Love AffairBefore Sunrise and Lost in Translation then you might really enjoy Last Chance Harvey. 

Labels: drama, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 57/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=62, viewers=64)    

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