Last Chance Harvey

by Rick Grant

Grade: A- PG-13 92 min
In youth-obsessed Hollywood, it’s rare that someone writes a romantic comedy about sixty something people that resounds with youthful exuberance and true love. Writer/director, Joel Hopkins created this charming story of two lonely people who find each other in an amazing circumstance, and how this melding of the minds changes them forever. It only proves my theory that no matter who you are or how old you are, there is a soulmate out there waiting for you somewhere. The question is: Is it fate or the power of love that brings the two like forces together.
Dustin Hoffman portrays Harvey Shine, a pianist, composer, and frustrated jazz player, who makes his living writing jingles. His employer has hinted that he is on the way out of the company. Since Harvey’s daughter Susan (Liane Balaban) is getting married in London, his boss Marvin (Richard Schiff) tells him to take his time in London and enjoy himself, alluding to the fact that Harvey will not have a job when he returns. The clients are looking for younger talent to write their ads.
While in London, Harvey discovers he has been demoted as Susan’s father. Her stepfather Brian (James Brolin) is obviously the number one parental figure in the family. Estranged from his daughter and ex-wife Jean, (Kathy Baker) Harvey feels like the fifth wheel in this celebration. Then Susan turns the screw by telling Harvey that Brian will give her away at the wedding. Then the coup de grace-Harvey gets a phone call from his boss Marvin who tells him that he’s fired.
In an airport pub, Harvey desperately needs a drink. While there he spots an Airport employee Kate Walker ( Emma Thompson) who stopped him when he arrived to ask him a few customer service questions. Harvey was rude and later felt bad about it. At the pub he apologizes to her and strikes up a conversation while she tries to read her book. One thing leads to another and the two strangers end up spending the day together. Clearly, they have made a deep connection as they walk through London.
Later that day, Kate suggests that Harvey go to the reception. He agrees if she will go with him. So he buys her a new gown to wear and they burst into the reception and cause quite a stir. Harvey finally gets the courage to speak up and make a toast as Susan’s father. The festivities go on into the night.
Yes, it’s not When Harry Met Sally, but Thompson and Hoffman sell the romance to the audience with such bumbling sweetness, it’s a joy to behold. Kate is all discombobulated by the sudden return of romance in her life and that she’s like a school girl again. Harvey realizes he has found his soulmate and he’ll move heaven and earth to make it work.
This unexpected romance happens just as a younger version would evolve, only faster. No time to lose-Harvey and Kate are not getting any younger. Besides, Kate was constantly fielding calls from her nutty mother and now she can tell her she has better things to do.
Hoffman and Thompson had great chemistry together making this little older romance story special. No, it won’t win any awards, but it’s a happy film that leaves the viewers smiling as they leave the theater. It was so refreshing to view a film with older actors portraying two love struck people who somehow found each other in this great big world. With so many teenage coming-of-age scenarios and other movies aimed at the youth culture, Last Chace Harvey is a precious little gem shining brightly amongst the load of schlock.


april, 2022