Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Last Chance Harvey"

Feeling a bit cabin-feverish this week we made two visits to the cinema. "Last Chance Harvey" was a much easier movie to like than "Knowing". It's one of those tales of romance for the middle-aged, written and played in intelligent mode. Set in London. There aren't too many of the usual annoyingly touristy shots, it's nicely restrained in that department.

Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman play the leads, other actors, of older and younger generations flit in and out, but are very much background material for the two heavyweights.

There seemed to be some real life chemistry between the two actors, which isn't surprising when you consider that they both have Fiery Suns (she Aries, he Leo, and reasonably sympathetic Moons, she Cancer, he Virgo.) Their characters in this movie are not at all like the stars' real-life natal charts indicate though.

Hoffman plays Harvey: American, late-middle aged, a divorced semi-failed musician who writes advertising jingles for a living, seems accident prone and bumbling, though kindly and well-meaning. She: Kate, English, works at Heathrow airport, attends evening classes in creative writing, early middle-aged and single. Kate appears awkward in male company, seems not overtly keen to be part of a couple.

I'll take a guess at the characters' astrological Big 3 (Sun/Moon/Ascendant). Harvey could probably have Sun in Libra (ruled by musical Venus) Moon in sensitive Cancer and ascendant hmmm....dreamy forgetful Pisces.

Kate comes over as cool and independent on the surface with an underlying lack of self confidence. She is actually warm and caring, with creative aspriations so: Sun in mutable Sagittarius, Moon in caring, often shy Cancer;, independent Aquarius.

Would they "click" with those astro patterns? Not necessarily, but there's more to natal charts than the Big 3, and there's more to love than astrology.

The movie was written and directed by Joel Hopkins - on right in photograph.

From Wikipedia:
When Hopkins was being considered to direct the 2005 children's film Nanny McPhee, for which he was ultimately unsuccessful, he met with Emma Thompson, who had written the script and would star as the title character. After seeing her in a Broadway production opposite Dustin Hoffman, Hopkins decided to write a script to emulate the interpersonal chemistry which he had seen between the two actors. He has said that the story was inspired by one of his parents' friends who was aging but still "finding his feet".

Finding one's feet is a lifetime experience, as Mr. Hopkins might come to understand as years go by!

I had expected echoes of "Bridges of Madison County" from this movie, but no, it's different. More of today, less pathos, and best of all, a happy ending. All in all, a satisfying movie, not a great one. Its memory will probably not last as long with me as "Madison County" has, but nevertheless - it's a good one.



Wisewebwoman said...

Here's my review, T:

That header just about sums it up for me. Highly predictable 'senior' romance but the leads, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, milk every nuance from their vast acting chops.

But I enjoyed it and thus the 7.

First of all, it was refreshing to see a movie with many older couples baring their wrinkles and aging for all the world to see. With the exception of Hoffman's two foot high hair plugs which give him some much needed height.

The story is misogynistic in that it uses the well worn cliché of most Hollywood romances, the klutzy brick-ignorant fellah who abandons his compassionate date at an event she encourages him to attend, leaving her so distressed that she leaves. And he gets her back with his self-deprecating grin and a tinkle on the piano keys and not a word of apology. And oh yeah, he's like over 20 years older too - and on the wrong side of 70.

And of course there is the standard, guy gets girl, guy loses girl, (the McGuffin - but in this age of mobile phones an impossibility) guy gets girl.

A 'get me a dress' scene rang particularly false, slim script stretch is my guess, but the fact there is no kissing or sexual mauling is rather refreshing and quite grown-up.

Some wonderful bit parts - Kathy Baker and Eileen Atkins are extraordinary standouts and just about steal the show from under the leads' noses.

7 out of 10. Limited appeal.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~ Hmmmm. Interesting differences in how we reacted. Thanks for your take on the movie.

I did feel rather more sympathetic to Harvey in general, and at the wedding. I thought it entirely understandable that he'd get caught up in family matters. I think she understood that it would happen, and that she almost expected it, and decided to leave him to it. To his credit he noticed quite quickly and waylaid her.

I didn't notice the age difference, but then I don't see age as important. I lived happily for 33 years with a guy 20 years my senior. The sadness is that the older partner dies too soon, that, for me, is the only consideration.

I agree on the buying a dress scene - I thought that was silly and could have been dealt with in a much better and more interesting way.

There were holes in it, for sure, but compared with some of the awful stuff on offer just now it was like a breath of fresh air!

R J Adams said...

Waller has always been one of my favorite writers, and the film version of "Bridges" was a better adaptation than most, so I don't think this would come close. Also, I hate happy endings - much too fairytale-ish for my 'realist' nature.
Still, if it has no gratuitous violence or sex it will definitely stand out as one of the more watchable products of modern day cinema.

Twilight said...

RJ ~~ Oh I like a happy ending. "Madison County" does me in every time at the end. So much wasted time they could have been together, after her husband died.

This is much lighter. No passion at all really. A relief from all the overblown stuff so common nowadays. Just a souffle.....;-)

Wisewebwoman said...

You know - the last scene I didn't take as a happy ending, I thought (which I liked, BTW) that it could have gone any which way, a month together, a life together, a year together.
I like it when that happens.
And I couldn't mention it in the review because of having to put a 'spoiler alert'.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ well, yes, you're right about that - it was open-ended, I guess. But at least it wasn't heart wrenchingly sad like "Madison". :-)

I should have said that I like a non-sad endding!

anthonynorth said...

Now they are two actors I really like. Have you noticed, though, how culture is beginning to age as the Baby Boomers do?
A creative generation.

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ and not before time! ;-)
Yes, but very slowly. The majority of movies are still aimed at youth culture: teens, and those up to age 30. We could use many more "grown-up" themes.