Think fast. What was the last great lead role for Dustin Hoffman? It's been a while, right?
Hollywood doesn’t do many favors for actors north of 60, let alone 70.
The 2008 film “Last Chance Harvey” is a minor miracle for two reasons. It lets Hoffman shine in ways we haven’t seen in ages, and it’s a romance that doesn’t follow the rom-com boilerplate.
And we haven’t even mentioned Hoffman woos the delightful Emma Thompson in the film.
Hoffman plays Harvey, a soon-to-be unemployed jingle writer jetting off to his daughter’s wedding in London. But said daughter is thisclose to being estranged, and Harvey has even worse ties to his ex-wife (Kathy Baker) and her new beau (James Brolin).
So when he sees an attractive woman named Kate at a London eatery he decides to chat her up.
Really, what has he to lose at this point?
But Kate has her own burdens to bear. She’s perpetually single and lives with her controlling mother. Surely, love just isn’t in the cards for her, right?
It’s a given that Hoffman and Thompson share wonderful screen chemistry. But what’s unexpected is how rich the screenplay and situations prove to be. A film starring two Oscar winners could have coasted on their star power.
Instead, the actors are ably supported by young writer/director Joel Hopkins, who should be put in charge of the next Hollywood rom-com – and fast.
The film’s final act includes a tired plot device meant to hype the “will they or won’t they” love story, but the moment soon passes, and we’re left with the stars trying one last time to find love.
The complex resolution is as satisfying as nearly every scene in “Last Chance Harvey.”
DID YOU KNOW: Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were roommates during the early days of their acting careers, sharing a tiny Manhattan apartment.