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Last Chance Harvey (2008)

A movie directed by Joel Hopkins

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4 stars: Everyone deserves a second chance at love

  • Jan 12, 2011

Watching "Last Chance Harvey" I was washed over with the sudden memories of  such great romantic feelings that I had when I watched such romantic classics such as James Cameron's  "Titanic"(1997),  Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca"(1942), Jon Turtletaub's "While you were Sleeping"(1995). I felt the real authentic feelings o love between two people that I had not felt for some time, I had not felt the love, the emotion, the sensation of feeling so lifted up by the love of two others. In this case the touching and very romantic story of one Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) and Kay Walker (Emma Thompson) two lonely middle aged people who meet under very typical circumstances they meet in an airport bar. Let's start from the top  shall we...Harvey Shine is a washed up jingle writer  who feels outdated in this modern society of computers and sound editing, Kay Walker is a lonely  introverted airport worker who is constantly nagged by her mother Maggie(Dame Eileen Atkins) because she is single. Harvey is in London for the wedding of his daughter Susan(Liane Balban) who is about to be married and things are not going too good for Harvey right from the start first he is let go form his job due to him being obsolete. Then he looses the coveted position of father of the bride to his ex-wife's new husband Brian (James Brolin), Kay set up on a blind date that did not go to well and the next day is in the airport bar reading her novel and drinking. When out of nowhere Harvey, depressed and beaten, enters the airport bar and after some causal conversation, Harvey and Kay decided to spend the day together and by doing so find not only solace in one another but find something that both of them have been looking for a long time... love. "Last Chance Harvey" is a beautiful film that is a tribute to love at the passing mark a story of happenstances of how sometimes when you least expect you find love in some of the most far off and mysterious places. This is a story of love, of hope, of joy and happiness and how everyone even misfits like Harvey Shine and introverted Kay Walker) deserves a second chance at the little thing we humans like to call love.

Joel Hopkins' "Last Chance Harvey" is a glorious, winning tribute to what I view as true love. When most people think of true love they think of two young people at the prime of there lives falling madly in love with one another only to be torn apart by some sort of tragedy or misfortune or there families do not approve of there love and forbid the lovers from being together. I would like to tell you that that is what this film is about but sadly, if I did I would be dumbing down a perfect romantic drama in the most classic of traditions there is not one fake or forced moment in this entire production. Every scene every frame every angle in this film feels so real it is like you are almost there, like your living with these characters in the moment of there blossoming love. Joel Hopkins has created such a caring portrait of love and emotions that "Last Chance Harvey" almost supersedes its very traditional yet highly engrossing love story. This highly entertaining film proves that Hollywood still has some original romantic work up there sleeves. This is a romantic drama for our time a romantic drama that tells a story everyone of all ages can relate too(those between the ages of 17-60 in particular). A story of two people who are way past the point of viewing love as something passionate and are just looking for someone to hold dear and near that is the point of the story of this film that is the meaning of it all. "Last Chance Harvey" is one of those rare films that does not  get the respect it deserves and yet deserves ever bit of respect, admiration and love it will get from its viewer. This a romance for our times a romance where  you think you have everything figured and then you figure out you don't, where love is never what it seems and when you least expect  you may find love in a misfit like yourself.

To describe my admiration and love for this film would take more words that I would like to describe this film so I will say this if you miss "Last Chance Harvey" you are missing a romantic film event that is like nothing you have ever seen. This is a love story where there is no passionate lovemaking, no intense make-out sessions  nothing very physical at all to this story  this is a plain straight out story of attraction, love at its most refined (when your over the hill) and mutual understanding. "Last Chance Harvey" is the smart moviegoers romance if you are hoping for a romance with dull characters, lame  dirty jokes, dull clichéd plot lines, sub par dialogue  and very unlikable characters stuck in  an idiotic story. Than  I would like to recommend to you "When in Rome"(2010), "The Back up Plan"(2010),  "The Ugly Truth"(2009), "Sleepless in Seattle"(1992) and "27 dresses"(2007). Because this is not the film for you, this is the film for those who are searching for a romance where there is meaning to the romance besides equal levels of physical level of attractiveness and where the bicker until they kiss plot line does not play a part in the story. "Last Chance Harvey" is so much more than that this is a story about two lonely introverted people who find a sort of common ground in each other and find a love that is both admirable and beautiful. I love this film I love every single thing about this film in all my time in watching movies this is one of the very few romantic films that has both restored my faith in the romance genre and made me feel happy at the same time this has quickly become one of my all time favorite films and one of my all time favorite romances and shows the audience that no matter what age you are you can always find love wherever it may lay.

For decades Dustin Hoffman has been one of cinema's most reliable and most talented actors starring in such memorable films such as "The Graduate"(his feature film debut and his first Oscar nomination), "Marathon Man", "Midnight Cowboy", "All the President's Men", "Kramer VS. Kramer,”  "Tootsie"(everybody over twenty remembers "Tootsie"), "Rain Man,” "Wag the Dog" and now "Last Chance Harvey.” In Joel Hopkins brilliant second film Hoffman delivers one of his most straightforward performances as introverted misfit composer Harvey Shine, Harvey is kind of like  me  he doesn't fit in well with people,  he is terrible when it comes to quick witted humor and embarrasses himself on numerous occasion in front of a group of people. Deep down inside he has a good heart is a good person and a good father he has just lost his way a little. Hoffman has never been known to play very normal guys he has always played characters with quirks and issues to numerous to count  but  his performance as Harvey Shine gives him the opportunity to just play it straight to just be  himself instead of being someone who is being chased by the Government or uncovering a Government conspiracy. Harvey is a regular with regular problems and who-in the state of personal and professional crisis- finds someone who he has something in common with who has the same insecurities as he does. Hoffman gives one of his most endearing and most charming performances in this rather traditional romantic film. I have never really liked Emma Thompson to me she just plays the same role repeatedly like most British actors do. With "Last Chance Harvey" she has won me over not just with her abilities as an actresses (and I do think she is damn fin actresses) but also with her ability to play Kay as such a simple and yet outward appealing woman. Kay Walker is as insecure as any middle aged single  woman would be she worries about being alone for the rest of her life but she is too shy for her own good and doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. The same could be said for Harvey so when Kay and Harvey finally meet you think what the hell! Maybe they might make a nice couple and they do they fit so well together it is like God made them just for one another, Thompson's performance is  just phenomenal she glows on screen and shines so  much brighter than any of those young stars who have played the female lead in weaker romantic films. She is just wondrous to behold to watch onscreen that you almost forget that the character she is playing is just a fictional  Thompson plays her so naturally like she is just being herself  she is truly a fine, fine actresses and one of the best of all time. The rest of the cast including James Brolin, Kathy Baker, Dame Eileen Atkins, Liane Balaban, Daniel Lapaine and Richard Schiff all urn in fine supporting performances in this wondrous film.

I am not easily won over by a film there are many test and trials that a film must go through to win my affection. "Last Chance Harvey" is one of those few films that won me over from the very beginning  this is such a powerful and lovely film that from the opening scene to the sweet- yet slightly clichéd- closing  you love every awkward, tender moment in this beautiful motion picture. A once in a blue moon unconventional love story that captures your heart and lifts your soul you do not feel weighted down while you are watching this movie. You feel uplifted carefree as you sit and observe the budding love between two middle aged people who are just trying to get by in this tough dog eat dog world we live in. Joel Hopkins has constructed a masterful film that not only portrays love at its most unforgiving but also gives you a love story that you can relate too. “Last Chance Harvey" is a true rarity amongst the romantic films of today it gives you a story you love, characters you can relate to and takes place at a time when life is the hardest of all. This is not a love story but a story about love when you lest expect it or want it this is a story of two people two lonely people who are just looking to get by and along the way find something they never thought would happen again in there life.. They found someone to love someone who needed them just as much as they needed someone a story of how even in the midst of tragedy you can find a shimmering light at the end that leads you down the road to happiness.  

4 stars: Everyone deserves a second chance at love

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January 17, 2011
EXCELLENT review as always, I enjoyed this one as well.
January 23, 2011
Thank you very much. I was surprised at how much I really liked this film it is just one of those underrated great films that when you watch them they just catch you by surprise.
January 12, 2011
ah...my friend Lopez returns with a review. This was pretty good, I liked the acting and the script wasn't bad. The only complaint about it was that Hoffman's character may be better written than Emma Thompson's. Still a good dramatic affair though. Thanks for the review!!
January 12, 2011
No problem and thank you. I don't think Hoffman's character was written better than Thompson's Hopkins gave both characters the equal ground to really flesh themselves out they were perfectly written.
January 12, 2011
That's great! I guess I just have a habit of enjoying characters who are in a corner and so I liked his character more. I think I may post my own review of it...I posted one in amazon long ago.
January 12, 2011
I agree with you Hoffman's character is more likable due to all the crap that happens to him, but in this film I kind of sympathized more with Thompson's character Kate. Who is kind of like me shy and introverted she doesn't like being noticed by anyone which is kind of like me so I felt more for her  than Harvey but I liked him just as much as her. And you should really review it I would like to read your thoughts on this film.
January 12, 2011
that's a great catch about Kate. I will probably re-watch it since I own the dvd and make sure I can give it a more accurate review if possible, sometimes you miss things the first watch you know; but I liked it a lot as I can remember before.
January 12, 2011
Great! I will look forward to your review.
More Last Chance Harvey (2008) reviews
review by . June 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars: First Loves, Second Chances And Maybe Everything In-Between....
I still hate romantic comedies but occasionally, I would try to see one just to keep my objectivities grounded. It is a good way to not become jaded with the types of movies I see, after all there is only too much action, fantasy and horror one can see in an extended period before one gets burned out. Heck, I may have just done this for a woman, but you never know. Anyway, Joel Hopkins’ “LAST CHANCE HARVEY” has one of the most likable actors in the person of Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, …
Quick Tip by . April 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Sweet, romantic, endearing, charming, and utterly enchanting Joel Hopkins "Last Chance Harvey" is one of the most appealing romantic dramas I have seen in a very long time thanks to in part to wonderfully charming performances from Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman and a wonderful script from director/screenwriter Joel Hopkins. "Last Chance Harvey" is one of the most appealing romantic films you have the pleasure of seeing. This is an immensely appealing film, one of the most …
review by . August 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Taking Chances
   Harvey is a failed American husband, father, and musician who flies to London to attend the wedding of his only daughter. Kate is a lonely English woman who had spent her life playing it safe and expecting disappointment. When their paths happen to cross, Harvey strikes up a conversation with Kate, and they spend the rest of the day walking about London together. Kate is attracted to Harvey's simple, humorous chatting-up approach, and he likes her straightforwardness. Over the course …
review by . October 02, 2009
Last Chance Harvey opens with Harvey Shine (Hoffman), an over-the-hill jingle writer who's about to lose his job. He's flying to London to his daughter Susan's wedding, but promises to return on time for a key meeting with a client. In London, Harvey quickly finds himself alone in a hotel while the rest of the family and guests, his estranged wife and her new husband included, rent a house in the city. He is awkward in his interactions with others, even Susan, making blunders at every turn and creating …
review by . June 28, 2009
 I had to endure this pile of celluloid dross last night ($1.99 from Amazon Video on Demand!) and it took almost a whole bottle of wine to find any pleasure in sitting on the sofa on a Saturday night. The plot has something to do with a washed-up musician who writes jingles for commercials, watching his estranged daughter get married, his ex-wife have a better life with a new guy, and he subsequently stalks a British woman who has an overbearing mother and reads books. There - two hours …
review by . June 15, 2009
I must confess I am not biggest fan of romantic comedies in the realm of cinema. This is mainly due to the fact that in the past ten years (I feel) that romantic comedies all follow the same stereotypical formula:    - Young guy meets young girl.  - Both guy & girl are very superficial (to some degree).  - Both guy & girl are very materialistic (to some degree).  - Both guy & girl cannot act.  - The comedy is grossly pratfalls & physical …
review by . May 30, 2009
Admittedly, director Joel Hopkins wants to tell a love story about two life's-got-me-down individuals in his film "Last Chance Harvey" starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Without the added accoutrement of madcap comedy or the usual boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl entanglements, he does manage to showcase two actors with some pleasant chemistry between them in a fairly realistic storyline that promenades to a satisfying conclusion.     Physically, Thompson …
review by . May 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Before Sunset meets An Affair to Remember meets As Time Goes By. All wonderful films / programs in their own right. Last Chance Harvey pulls some of the best bits of these into a charming love story. It's a very simple sweet ride to the finish. Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman are simply wonderful to watch in this film. Add some of the more beautiful cinematography in some time, a nice soundtrack, and this is a very good film.    After watching the DVD special featurette, it …
review by . April 15, 2009
After a decade of playing serious roles in films for Hollywood, Dustin Hoffman now has a shot of happiness in "Last Chance Harvey." Though he doesn't start off very happy as a jingle writer who has recently been fired from his job. His comfort is supposed to be from giving away his daughter at her wedding in London, but she drops the bombshell that she's going to let her step father give her away. Crushed, Harvey walks away from the wedding where he meets Kate (Emma Thompson), a single woman in …
review by . April 16, 2009
On any list of proposed pairings for a romantic comedy, would you expect to see Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson? No, probably not. But LAST CHANCE HARVEY puts these troupers together in London and the results are a bit surprising. The story: New York jingle-writer Harvey Shine (Hoffman) is on his last legs in a job that's passing him by, and with difficulty he tears himself away from the daily crisis to attend his daughter's wedding in London. Long divorced, Harvey hasn't been close to his daughter …
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C.R. Lopez ()
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Member Since: Nov 6, 2009
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Anyone who’s seen the trailer for Last Chance Harvey can easily guess how it ends. In fact, the title alone is a clue. But the destination is hardly the point with movies like this; it’s the journey that counts, and this one is pretty entertaining.

You could call director-writer Joel Hopkins’ film a romantic comedy, but it’s not especially robust in either of those departments. This is more of a character study, and veteran lead actors Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are well up to the task of bringing theirs to life. Both are awkward, lonely, social misfits. Hoffman’s Harvey Shine is a bit of a schlub; his gig as a jingle composer in jeopardy, estranged from his ex-wife (Kathy Baker) and daughter (Liane Balaban), he flies to London for the latter’s wedding, only to have her tell him that she has chosen her step-father (James Brolin) rather than him to give her away.

Meanwhile, Kate Walker (Thompson) spends her days trying to survey harried travelers at Heathrow Airport, answering her meddling mother’s constant stream of cell phone calls, and awaiting the all-to-inevitable onset of spinsterhood. Harvey has already brushed her off once when, having put in a humiliating appearance at the wedding and missed his return flight to America, he runs into her in an airport bar.

What ensues--the initial repartee and sarcastic snarking, the gradual breaking of the ice, the burgeoning attraction, the complications and misunderstandings--is ...
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Director: Joel Hopkins
DVD Release Date: May 5, 2009
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Anchor Bay - ITN
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