Hoffman, Thompson find love in ‘Last Chance Harvey’

W. K. Ballard

What is success? What matters in the realm of the human experience? And if you were down to your very last chance, what exactly would you risk that chance upon? Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson star in this gentle, sweet film that examines what is and is not important when life takes a turn for the worst.

At age 71 Hoffman is in top form as no-nonsense New Yorker Harvey Shine. The film opens as he is having a bad day, and though the writer delicately hints at past problems, he never lets the action slip away from the very present moment, where Harvey finds himself slipping towards an all-time low. Like all of us at one time or another, his own problems render him self absorbed and not a little rude.

One bad day follows another, and Harvey ends up in a bar, drowning his sorrows, only to find himself with an opportunity to make amends. That he does so is when his life begins to take a new direction, and Harvey must decide what path he truly wants to follow.

Do not expect fireworks or high drama in this deft and subtle comedy. Do not expect guffaws or belly laughs. Look forward instead to a real feelings portrayed realistically, and a slow smile that grows and deepens to a feeling of warm contentment.

Thompson is delightful as Kate Walker, a single woman enveloped by her aging mother’s concerns.

Beautifully filmed by John de Borman on location in London, this film was also directed by its author Joel Hopkins. Hopkins chose nuance over noise for this work, and took the risk that his audience would be discerning enough to appreciate that and that risk paid off.

The official Web site for ‘Last Chance Harvey’ offers a full synopsis, downloads, cast information and special features.

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