Sunday, August 02, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

We've all seen a lot of scenarios as to how a couple meets. We have a new one in Last Chance Harvey, which happens after a good 45 minutes into the movie. Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) finally sits down in a bar after a horrendous day in both job and personal life, and starts talking to Kate (Emma Thompson), who obviously doesn't want to talk at the next table as she brought a book and is very tenacious about letting go of her privacy. Who's had the "shittiest day" takes hold as a great discussion, and when he explains that he not only lost his job that day, but his daughter told him at the last minute that she wanted her stepfather to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, well, Kate acknowledges that Harvey wins. But we also know she had a tough day as well, having been set up in a blind date and left pretty much alone when his other friends happen to be at the bar, too.

Harvey is a great deal older than Kate, and is certainly more tenacious. He finds someone who tells it like it is, is a good listener, and has the same kind of humor. So he accompanies her to her class. And he finds it hard to let go after that.

This is not the wittiest comedy out there. It's not even a comedy, or a tragedy. It's all about how hard it is to change your life once you're headed in a certain direction, and how absolutely difficult it is to meet new people and forge new relationships. The lines said by our major characters are real words, not things we've wished we had said, things spontaneously out of the mouth. And mistakes are made along the way, as in real life.

I found it very charming, not light-hearted but not heavy, either, despite its beginning. I thought it interesting that the movie ends not with a definite ending, but with hope, much like Tootsie ended when Dustin's character admits to Jessica Lange that he's really Tootsie. They walk off together talking, but you're never sure what's going to happen. But you're pulling for them. Hope.

Thumb's up.

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