Last Chance Harvey (2008)
My Rating: 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “The feeling is lost is just a state of mind!”
Set in London, this romantic comedy stars Dustin Hoffman as Harvey Shine, a divorced and haggard jingle-writer quickly aging out of his career and workaholic ways. With a warning from his boss (Richard Schiff) to not bother rushing back, Harvey goes to London, begrudgingly, for his daughter’s wedding, fielding that work calls the whole time he’s there. When Harvey greets his estranged daughter, Susie (Liane Balaban), it becomes clear just how far away he’s grown from his family. The film never spells out in exactly what ways Harvey was a bad father, but it is clear he missed the boat when Susie asks her stepfather (James Brolin) to give her away. As Harvey leaves his heartbreak at the ceremony for an emergency work call, he misses his flight and gets fired.
While nursing a whiskey at the airport bar, Harvey bumps into Kate (Emma Thompson), an airport employee escaping her own bad day with a glass of wine and a book. Suddenly taken by Kate’s British charm, a tipsy Harvey bombards her with tales of his trouble. This unlikely trading of sob stories leads to lunch, a walk around London, and a day of unexpected romance. Thompson is charming as Kate, a lonely middle-age woman struggling to deal with her mother’s constant prying into her life. Despite not having had the best of luck in romance, Kate is an optimist at heart, and it’s this spark for life that attracts Harvey and ultimately helps repair his image in his daughter’s eyes. Never showy or too ambitious, Joel Hopkins’s slow-paced romance twists old clichés to suit a more adult audience. While not groundbreaking in its plot, LAST CHANCE HARVEY is saved by great performances from the always-solid Hoffman and the incredibly charming Thompson, who makes an otherwise familiar story feel fresh.