Hoffman cannot save Harvey

Released in most theaters last Friday, Last Chance Harvey is a story of an American songwriter who finds an English woman who changes his life. The film stars Dustin Hoffman (Harvey Shine) and Emma Thompson (Kate Walker).

Both Harvey’s job and his family have suffered to the point that he has been driven out of each. Although the relationship seems parasitic at first, the couple soon becomes symbiotic as Harvey woos Kate with his persistent ardor and musical talent.

The film has many problems. There is no conflict. This movie lasts only for one hour and thirty minutes, but it is filled with excruciating nothingness.

The relationship between Harvey and Kate is a welcome reprieve that heroically saves the film from being labeled with a cautionary warning of extreme boredom.

The pair of Hoffman and Thompson is quite a match. The strange latching of Harvey to Kate after a chance meeting does not add any additional merriment, but it deserves points as a different way to make a connection in a film. Unlike the old standby of couples randomly meeting time and time again as seen in most romances, Harvey works a different angle showing that he must basically tag along with Kate hoping his personality makes an impression. The situation may knock hopeful, fictional love down a peg and would be terribly creepy in a non-fictional setting, but it shows realism in that the relationship needs work to keep its fire.

To be most frank, this film is unbelievably poor because of writer/director Joel Hopkins. Not knowing Hopkins’ earlier works, I can still only come to this logical conclusion because there was nothing deemed worthy of any praise in this movie.

Stylistically, the camera work and directing were adequate, but nothing jumped off the screen to make me think that this was a masterpiece.

Hopkins’ writing was quite far from greatness. The plot was left longing for something more dramatic. The ending was not at all surprising and most of the plot development was something that could have been deduced with simple intelligence. The dialog of characters other than Harvey and Kate was unimaginably bad, and their performance could have been played by mannequins with a speech bubble of text read by a narrator (as for the extras having no dialog, they could have been replaced by cardboard cutouts).

That is to say, the smaller roles did absolutely nothing for the main characters. Hoffman and Thompson were alright in the film and had a nice chemistry, but it seemed overly platonic for a romance. The inner feelings were noticeable in each shared scene, but there was no external passion. With such awful writing and directing I am thankful that my berating can focus solely on Hopkins.

The movie really does not perform as well as it should with such actors as Hoffman and Thompson. The pair is the only quality of the film I would not smash apart in hopes that Hopkins may do a better job the second time around, and because of that I do not wish to recommend this movie to anyone.