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Melissa Silverstein

Melissa Silverstein

Posted January 16, 2009 | 12:17 PM (EST)

Last Chance Harvey


How is it that the British are able to make these lovely, small romances that can be watched over and over every time they are on? Don't tell me you haven't seen Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill or even Love Actually about 20 times. While all those films share Hugh Grant (btw where the hell is he?) they also share a sensibility that seems to be missing from American films.

Joining that list will be the new film Last Chance Harvey written and directed by Joel Hopkins starring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman which opens nationwide today. (FYI - I am a consultant on this film and have done blogger and boomer outreach to help build word of mouth.) This is a warm, lovely (one of the best words that can describe it) and heartwarming film about taking the leap for love even though you are pretty resigned to that never happening.

Dustin Hoffman plays Harvey a guy stuck in a dead end job writing jingles who dreamed of being a jazz pianist. Emma Thompson is Kate a manager at a dead end job harassing people who just get off planes for the Bureau of Statistics. She spends her time reading, taking care of her mom and dreaming of writing a great vacation book in a small house in Spain.

emma_dustinThey strike up a conversation at the airport bar after Harvey has had a shitty day where he missed his plane, lost his job and felt like an outsider at his own daughter's wedding. Harvey pushes the conversation and after giving up on her witty retorts, Emma engages. So they begin a conversation that lasts the rest of the weekend and includes Emma making Dustin go to his daughter's reception where he makes a beautiful and honest toast that redeems him to his ex-wife and daughter.

Being an Emma Thompson fan I would see her in anything and it was a real delight to see her playing as she says "my first modern romantic lead in a film." I was especially moved by the ending where Kate shows Harvey how scared she is to take the plunge even though she knows they have a special connection. The goofy smile she gives Harvey after deciding to take a shot so reminded me of the last moments of Sense & Sensibility (can it be that movie was 13 years ago?) when Hugh Grant's Edward declares his love for Elinor. I love that last scene and her goofy smile.

The thing about Last Chance Harvey that makes it special (to me) even though its not a perfect movie by any means and there are problems with the sense of desperation and sadness in Emma's character, is that it is a movie for adults. As a 41-year-old woman there aren't many movies made for adults and I am grateful for this film. Remember, even though no films are perfect, we need to support films that show real women (and men) so that more of them get made and then we can even have a debate about a character like Kate. Cause if we don't support it, I can guarantee we won't have more like it.

Read Emma Thompson's statement in support of the film.

Originally posted on Women & Hollywood

Film opens nationwide today.