Day: May 9, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

If any of you haven’t seen Last Chance Harvey- see it. It’s great. Wonderful. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson (who can do no wrong in my book) are both terrific in this gentle romance. They play Harvey and Kate- two mature adults who meet each other by chance in an airport in London.  Harvey is an American who is there to see his only daughter be married.  Kate works at the airport as a customer service representative.  When they meet Harvey has just missed his flight, been fired from his disappointing job and his daughter has chosen her stepfather to give her away at the wedding.  On the other side, Kate is single and has resigned herself to a mediocre life of work and caring for her mother.  Neither characters are happy or fulfilled. When they meet they are both at lows, which actually gives them a lot in common with each other.  As they get to know one another a sweet and simple romance develops.  It reminded me of the old school romances of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I don’t want you to think it is only a date movie or a chick flick; although it is excellent in both regards. It is also an interesting movie about work, family, happiness and taking risks.  I guess Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman decided to make the movie while filming one of my all time favorite films Stranger than Fiction- also a great movie about work, happiness, and taking risks.  Perhaps Fiction is slightly better than this but I loved both.

There is a line where Emma Thompson says:

“You see, what I think is I am more comfortable with being disappointed. I think I am angry with you for trying to take that away.”

Isn’t that a powerful idea? How many of us live a shallow life because it is safe, comfortable, or easy? I am a very risk-averse person and it is hard for me to jump into the unknown. While I have little experience with romance, I can imagine one of the hardest parts is trusting your heart to another human being who might break it. The thing that the character’s realize is that each of us give our lives to something whether it be work, art, family, friends, or love. We might as well give it up for something that has the greatest potential for happiness.
Another thing the characters realize is they have allowed their life choices and their definition of happiness to be defined by others. Emma Thompson has a particular moment of clarity I appreciated while on a blind date. Her friends basically trick her into this date with a person she has nothing in common with and doesn’t enjoy. In fact, it feels like her mother and friends have turned her love life into their hobby- like a giant guessing game. It’s funny because she doesn’t say anything but just looks around and realizes this is not the life she wants. I related to this moment. Not because my friends set me up but I have had moments of clarity where I realized my life was on the wrong track- that I wasn’t living the life I was meant to live.
I don’t believe in fate, but I don’t believe in coincidences either. I feel we all have a unique purpose in life that requires us to interact with particular people. I felt this sense of connection with others on my mission. There were people I know I was supposed to help, supposed to find. While not everything has this type of purpose, almost everything can be used by the Lord to further His plan.
In Last Chance Harvey the characters discover their own unhappiness but at the same time learn how much they need each other.
I don’t know if I have done the movie justice but I just loved it. It’s interesting because I also saw Ghost of Girlfriends Past- a supposed romantic comedy that was anything but romantic. What a contrast on every level! In Ghost the acting was bad, the characters were unbelievable , and the writers had the nerve to destroy one of the best books ever written- the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  There is no comparison between the two.

I hope you all go out and rent Last Chance Harvey and I hope you like it as much as me. Post your reviews in the comment section of the blog. Enjoy!