You’ll take a shine to Harvey: Review of Last Chance Harvey

by Susan Getgood on January 10, 2009

in TV/Film

While the trailer above gives away much of the plot of the new Dustin Hoffman-Emma Thompson film Last Chance Harvey, it doesn’t begin to convey how lovely this film truly is. In fact, you can probably figure out the end simply from a written summary of the plot.

And it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

Last Chance Harvey truly shines in the performances. Starting with Hoffman and Thompson, all the way through the cast.

Hoffman can overact with the best of them, and sometimes he’s just a bit too much. He’s never better though than when he uses silence. He does it extremely well here — from the awkward silences when Harvey Shine doesn’t quite know what to say to the deliberate ones when he’s waiting for Emma Thompson’s character Kate Walker to come around to his way of thinking.

Emma Thompson is always good. Even when she’s in a bad movie, she’s good. And this is a good movie. She and Hoffman have good chemistry and there’s also a delightful sub-plot with her mother, played by Eileen Atkins. If you go to the film, wait until the end of the credits. It’s not as good as the credits reveal in Iron Man, but if you’ve enjoyed the film, stay ’til the end.

Some people may not like the mother storyline, but I thought it was necessary to round out Kate’s life. Without it, you wouldn’t have a full picture of her character, as so much of the story revolves around the wedding of Harvey’s daughter. And it is very funny.

Other highlights — the elderly fellow student in Kate’s writing class (towards the end) and Liane Balaban as Harvey’s daughter Susan.

If you like either Hoffman or Thompson, you’ll enjoy this film. If you like them both, you’ll really enjoy it. It’s a nice, happy but realistic movie that will lift your spirits. And these days, what’s not to like about that?

One note: I definitely enjoyed it more than my husband, but he liked it. It definitely will appeal more to a female audience, but unlike some “chick flicks,” there’s plenty for men to identify with as well. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-

The film opens in general release next Friday.

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