Last Chance Harvey [2008]

I actually thought this was going to be a very light, breezy comedy in the vein of Nancy Meyers, so imagine the disappointment when I find Last Chance Harvey is incredibly uncomfortable. Dustin Hoffman plays Harvey, a loser who’s ignored and pushed aside at work and by his family, but he’s a loser you can’t root for or empathize with since he’s so bitter and obnoxious. You even start to wonder if the world is just punishing him for his terrible attitude.

But director and writer Joel Hopkins is a clever guy. As soon as Emma Thompson enters the picture (literally), everything changes. The mood’s lighter, funnier, warmer. That’s certainly a nice touch that mirrors all that Harvey feels upon meeting Kate.

Last Chance Harvey also has a fantastic script and two incredible actors in the lead roles. Thompson is such an illuminating presence. I am a little biased, though; she reminds me of my mother. Hoffman’s wedding speech is one of the most touching scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Eileen Atkins and Bronagh Gallagher are great in bit parts that offer comic relief.

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