Last Chance Harvey

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: +2

Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson. Drama/romance. Directed by Joel Hopkins.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Itís just not a good day for Harvey Stein. He is being undermined at work, he has to fly to London for his estranged daughterís wedding, where heís ignored by most, the bride-to-be tells her father she wants her step-dad to walk her down the aisle, and then he gets a call and is told that heís fired. Everything happens to this guy but a heart attack. Wait, wait, that happens too. Well, at least he meets and has a brief encounter with Emma Thompson. Now thatís a good thing.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Funny, a film with these emotionally troubling themes never gets released during summer vacation. Nor do films with December/November romances. The reason: films considered by the studios as Oscar hopefuls must be shown before December 31st. Evidently Academy members canít remember a movie from six months ago. And can you blame them? How many films from this past year do you remember? Or want to? (Ouch, I know. I honestly donít mean to be mean. But most film critics agree, this past year in particular has been filled with mediocrity.)

So, suck it up, moviegoer. If you want to see anything other than a cartoon or starring Adam Sandler, youíll be purchasing tickets to woe-is-me movie topics. But just before you decide to pass on Last Chance Harvey due to my critical assessment of Tinseltownís love of dysfunction, I must tell you, itís a pretty good film. Thatís due not to direction or its heavy-handed premise, but to the filmís lead couple.

Though the bloom has been off Mr. Hoffmanís screen persona for some time and Ms. Thompson must be losing the more juicy rolls to Meryl Streep, both are solid, engaging actors. Their strength here lies in reminding us that there is always hope. Out of the ashes of lifeís travails rises the smoldering promise of loveís passion.

This may be a moot point, but the one disappointment was the wedding itself. The two young people are married in a civil ceremony and there is no mention of God throughout. It has become easier for some writers and most studios to ignore any mention of religious beliefs. So, once again, we are given characters that have never considered God or have rejected Him. For me this is problematic, for itís clear that all decisions made by the characters are done without biblical consideration. While that may be the case for a great many people, it always seems shallow when developing screen characters, to exclude the presentation of religious values when lead characters make life-altering decisions. The symbolism of having the couple unite in a church or synagogue sends a message that faith in a higher power exists. When that element is removed from a film, an agenda is reflected. Somebody associated with the production doesnít want God to be perceived as an entity, let alone a deity.

DVD Alternative: C.S. Lewisí Through The Shadowlands. Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom star as English author C.S. Lewis and an American woman who begin a relationship through letters, then fall in love. While Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger do a great job with their interpretation, this 1985 British version is a superb character study, paying more homage to their growing Christian sympathies. (Hard to find. Ask your Christian bookstore if they can order it.)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Overture Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: There are a couple of mild sexual innuendoes as a friend is trying to set up the female lead on a blind date.

Obscene Language: Ten uses of the s-word, but I caught no other harsh language.

Profanity: I caught none.

Violence: None

Sex: None Ė itís about romance, not sexual gymnastics.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some social drinking. It is implied that the male lead drinks too much.

Other: None

Running Time: 99 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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