Last Chance for Love
What do you do when life and love give you another chance? Grab it with open hands. At least that’s the message you get from “Last Chance Harvey,” a romantic movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.
Harvey (Hoffman) works in a company making jingles, the closest that he has come to his dreams of being a jazz pianist and composer. His standing in the company is uncertain as he departs for London to attend daughter Susan’s wedding. At the airport, he is accosted by Kate (Thompson) who collects statistics from passengers and in his hurry, he brusquely brushes her off. Kate steps back with dignified acceptance and a subtle sense of resignation.
Later, their paths cross when Harvey misses his flight back and gets fired from his job. This time he approaches her. She is hesitant but finally reciprocates the interest. She convinces him to attend Susan’s reception, a sore point with Harvey as his daughter has asked her step-father to give her away. He agrees on condition that she accompanies him.
That is just the beginning of a heady three days when the couple spend time with each other. The movie ends with Harvey getting back his job but deciding to stay in London and explore the possibility of a relationship with Kate.
While following a rather formulaic genre, the movie breaks the formula in refreshing ways. Director Joel Hopkins’ unobtrusive direction allows Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson to live out their roles convincingly, while the slick editing maintains the pace.
True, there are clichés like Kate being asked to escort Harvey to his daughter’s reception, the dress-trying routine and the rather dramatic (but moving) toast that Harvey gives at the reception, thus redeeming himself in his family’s eyes and endearing himself to Kate. The subplot, involving Kate’s eccentric mother and her obsession with the Polish family next door, digresses from the simplicity of the plot.
However, the movie does touch a chord in spite of these drawbacks. There is a sense of restraint in the interaction of the characters, reminding you that these are not two youngsters heading towards an exciting affair. While the chemistry is spontaneous and the tentative excitement they share almost palpable, there is also a conscious drawing back and cautiousness from Kate’s part, poignantly and convincingly captured by Emma Thompson. You get the feeling that these are people who’ve burnt their hands and would like to take it slow.
Definitely a mature romance that leaves on the clear note: you’re never too old to make beautiful memories.