Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson star in this gentle, sweet film called “Last Chance Harvey,” which examines what is and is not important when life takes a turn for the worst.
Thompson is delightful as Kate Walker, a single woman enveloped by her aging mother’s concerns. At age 71, Hoffman is likewise in top form as no-nonsense New Yorker Harvey Shine. The film opens as Shine is having a bad day. Although the movie delicately hints at Shine’s past problems, the action never slips away from the very present moment, where Harvey finds himself slipping towards an all-time low. Like many people do at one time or another, Harvey’s problems render him self-absorbed and rude. One bad day follows another, and Harvey ends up in a bar. While drowning his sorrows at the bar, Harvey finds himself with an opportunity to make amends. After doing so, his life begins to take a new direction, and Harvey must decide what path he truly wants to follow in life.
Through the themes the movie explores, it tempts the viewer to ask: 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 to take that chance?
Do not expect fireworks or high drama in this deft and subtle comedy. Neither should you expect guffaws or belly laughs. Instead, look forward to a genuine portrayal of real feelings, and a slow smile that grows to a feeling of warm contentment.
Beautifully filmed on location in London, this film was directed by John de Borman and the movie’s author Joel Hopkins. Hopkins chose nuance over noise for this piece, and took the risk that the audience would be discerning enough to appreciate that. The risk paid off.