Last Chance Harvey - Blu-ray Review

'expects us to believe that, in 2010, key players in romances still arrange to meet in random public places, at times that they will be fated not to make'

Somewhere towards the middle of Last Chance Harvey I forgot how excruciating its first third was. Thankfully, I was helpfully reminded of that fact by the film's, quite frankly, disastrously cliched and convoluted final third. There is only one reason why this momentary memory loss occurred and that is the man so slight of height that, at one point, director Joel Hopkins puts him on a step to ensure he is matched up with co-star Emma Thompson. That man is, of course, the inimitable Dustin Hoffman, an actor who oozes class and charm at every moment but cannot overcome the confines of this tired offering that really leaves you wondering: where now for the modern romance?

In a first twenty-five minutes which draws every possible 'gag' out of the embarrassment of Hoffman's out-of-place American Harvey, entering London to be at the wedding of his distant daughter, several very painful scenes are meticulously butchered at the speed and enjoyment level of pulling teeth. Whilst, in an age where Ricky Gervais appears to be gravitating towards superstardom this may be behind the times, I'm not fully sold on embarrassment being innately funny: give me a well scripted Monty Python joke any day (all together now: 'he's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy'). For those that share similar views there's little here to recommend and fans of Gervais-style humour will have seen it all before.

The much better scripted middle-third, which wisely restricts itself to intelligent conversations between Harvey and Kate (Thompson), still finds itself suffering from problems derided from Hopkins' genre-riding safety play. In a scene where Kate must get from Paddington Station to her writing class, the couple conveniently walk through Trafalgar Square, over the Millennium Bridge and down the banks of the Thames. Call me cynical (and a touch Northern in my knowledge of London geography) but this seems a convenience designed to show us that this is, you know, a romance set in London. As Kate prepares to leave her evening with Harvey, he entices her back by (as you do) playing the piano because, you know, he's a session pianist who dreamed of being a big time romantic Jazz composer.

In a terribly tidy conclusion which expects us to believe that, in 2010, key players in romances still arrange to meet in random public places, at times that they will be fated not to make, all sense of Last Chance Harvey having serious pretensions of offering more than many of its compatriots had gone. When the real (but smaller and less Swedish looking) 'Hoff' can't save your film from mediocrity, you're in a hole so deep that no matter how big your step, you're not getting out of it.

Look further...

'[Hopkins] yanks the climax right the hell out of his protagonist's hands and that is where, to me, the movie comes flying off the rails' - Cinema Romantico


  1. I actually like this movie much better than you, but maybe because I like Emma Thompson a lot!

    Btw, I've tagged you for this internet meme thing that's spreading out fast! :)

  2. I really WANTED to like it and, as I say, I really like Hoffman and Thompson too but I just couldn't warm to it at all.

    Really thanks a lot for that (and to Andrew too if he reads this, I saw he had tagged me in a previous post) but I really struggle with memes (and yes, I am aware I sound like a killjoy typing this)! If I feel inspired in the future I'll make sure I do it and really (again), thanks a lot for the two tags!

  3. I will forgive the terrible whole for my two favorite oldish people, Hoffman and Thompsan.

  4. I wish I could do that too but for me, its problems were just too apparent. I'll watch pretty much anything with those two and perhaps that's why this really disappointed me.