This examination of a Hollywood legend is timely given our celebrity-obsessed age.
Beverly Aadland wasn’t Errol Flynn’s final seduction.
“The Last of Robin Hood” shows Flynn’s influence on a directorial team determined to bring Beverly’s affair with Flynn to the big screen.
Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (“Quinceañera”) appear smitten by Flynn’s legacy despite the actor’s fling with a 15-year-old girl. They capture how Flynn could captivate a room and charm a stage mother into abandoning her child’s best interests, all the while refusing to judge his criminal behavior.
Yet the duo deliver an animated film all the same, complete with Kevin Kline’s pitch-perfect turn as the fading icon. In an age of deeply flawed anti heroes, Kline’s Flynn fits right in. And is this inside Hollywood yarn much different than ones spun today? Tabloids spreading lies to gin up readers. Stars manipulating the press to sustain their careers. Stage mothers who will ignore their child’s interests to suckle on the teat of fame and fortune.
Is this 2014 or 1959?
The film begins with the death of Flynn at 50, a shock even if the actor’s lifestyle suggested an early exit. Oily reporters pounce on Beverly (Dakota Fanning), the ingenue who comforted the actor in his last days.
The time-shifting narrative bumps back to the early days of their creepy courtship. Only later did he learn she was 15, a revelation that had no impact on his plans, or libido. A member of his inner circle tries waving a big, red flag in front of Flynn’s face.
The dashing actor dismisses the advice. Beverly’s mother is equally to blame, a stage mother for the ages given texture by Susan Sarandon. Ma wants Beverly to be a star more than her daughter does. If that means allowing a man more than triple her age to seduce her, so be it.
“The Last of Robin Hood” doesn’t get to the core of Flynn’s behavior. Psychology is not on the agenda. It’s more about the machinations of Hollywood, from actors manipulating the press to the rich and famous getting away with almost anything.
Audiences eager to see those ‘50s styles again will forgive the film’s moral weaknesses. And anyone who suspected Kline was born to play Flynn will be proven right. The 60-something Kline endures some excellent makeup to erase the age gap.
“The Last of Robin Hood” leaves morality on the cutting room floor but captures an aspect of the Hollywood system we wish we could forget.
Did You Know? Kevin Kline’s penchant for turning down roles earned him the industry nickname “Kevin Decline,” although in recent years his workload suggests the moniker no longer fits. He starred in seven films from 2010 through 2014 according to imdb.com.
If you enjoyed “The Last of Robin Hood” you should also consider “My Week with Marilyn” (for the glamour and old school flourishes) or “The Stunt Man” (for a taste of morally hazy Hollywood at its best.)