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Last Chance Harvey 

Wednesday, Jan 14 2009

Can a heartwarming meet-cute as unambitious and overtly sentimental as Last Chance Harvey be simply too nice to get beat up on by anyone other than the coldest of bastards? Perhaps it helps if you're in the third act of your life, just as neurotic White Plains schlub Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) is in the film's first: long-divorced, facing forced retirement by a younger generation of commercial jingle writers, and on his way to London to see his daughter get married—and be given away by her stepdad. If it couldn't be gleaned from their intercut lives of loneliness, Harvey's soulmate-to-be on the other side of the pond is Kate (Emma Thompson), a Heathrow survey-giver with a disarming wit to shield her from every relationship's inevitable rejection. Place your bets on whether the crude, embarrassing American and the British momma's girl will smilingly spar, then bond over their shared broken dreams: Hooray, everybody's rich! Besides being old pros who could elevate such schmaltz in their sleep, Hoffman and Thompson—despite the 20-plus years between them, and her graceful restraint in contrast to his creepy assertiveness—have a genuinely sweet chemistry, which is the exact and only reason to seek this one out. Clearly, it's not for anything writer-director Joel Hopkins (Jump Tomorrow) has wrought.

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Aaron Hillis


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