REVIEW: Last Chance Harvey

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Last Chance Harvey (dir. Joel Hopkins)
starring: Dustin Hoffman & Emma Thompson
Cineplex Odeon Orion Gate. Tuesday, January 27th, 2009.

What can you expect from a light romantic comedy like Last Chance Harvey? Stellar acting, a cute plot that plays out in a very common way and 90 minutes of smiles.

Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) is unhappy with his work and seeks his aspirations of being a Jazz pianist in becoming a commercial composer. Bullied in his work and seemingly forced out of the building, Harvey attends his daughter’s wedding reception. Much to his dismay he is put in a different party for the gathering and is abandoned by everyone he loves. Alone and seeking love from his daughter, but worried about his jobs stability, Harvey is a conflicted man.

Counterpart and eventual match, Kate Walker (Emma Thompson) is also unhappy with her work. Being ignored daily by airport patrons is her job – well not really, she’s a questionnaire giver. When she gets off work, she has a very frantic and unassured mother (Eileen Atkins) to drop in on frequently. Frantic because she’s convinced her Polish neighbour is a mass murderer.

Due to their awful, stressful lives, Harvey and Kate bump into each other on an off chance at the airport’s bar. Ice is broken and hearts are warmed within the next few minutes of story and away we go with the essential plot. Harvey and Kate exchange their services to each other for a wonderful day; Harvey becomes more confident with a friend – Kate becomes more assertive with a blossoming love.

Though the characterization develops slightly throughout the course, you never get an entire grasp of who these people are. You find out major tidbits that perhaps shaped them as who they are now, but those segments are all too brief. Headed by a fantastic duo and two wonderful supporting women in Eileen Atkins & Liane Balaban, Last Chance Harvey has a piece to offer you in a thespian’s eyes.

Last Chance Harvey may not be the most original or staggering story of 2008, but its very honest and too enticing for the humanist in any given person. ***/****

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