Last Chance Harvey (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Romance
Anchor Bay || PG13 - 93 minutes - $39.98 || May 5, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-04-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Joel Hopkins
Writer(s): Joel Hopkins (written by)
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Eileen Atkins, Kathy Baker, James Brolin, Richard Schiff


Theatrical Release Date: January 16, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

Last Chance Harvey stars Dustin Hoffman as Harvey Shine, a ďcommercial jinglesĒ composer who travels to London for the wedding of his daughter, whom he is estranged from since his divorce from his wife (Kathy Baker). Emma Thompson plays airport customer service rep named Kate Walker. Harvey and Kate have something in common: they both are kind of lost in their lives, but a chance encounter brings new life to one another.

This isnít some kind of profound drama nor is it -- thank goodness -- a heavy-handed one either. Last Chance Harvey has a structurally simple script with quiet but complicated characters. A dramatic combination I can both appreciate and love. That said, it is the performances and fantastic chemistry between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson that carries it to the finish line in sweet satisfaction.

While watching, I couldnít help think this could pass off as a pseudo sequel to Hoffmanís The Graduate, the young man in the twilight of his years who is lost with an estranged daughter whose wedding reception heíd rather miss to fly back to New York for a job that is in jeopardy, and even so, a job he really has begun to hate over the years. Even while in London, heís lost in a crowd he barely knows, one where he feels like the outcast, almost like he were attending someone elseís wedding.

The first half hour cuts between Harveyís awkward conversations with Kateís own difficulties with a mother seemingly calling every hour while being set up on a blind date that doesnít go very well. It is during this time that the movie quietly pushes along (and I mean that with all due respect) to that moment when Harvey and Kate meet and, at least on her part, strike up a reluctant friendship.

Where Last Chance Harvey fails, or I should say disappoints, is actually with the script itself. Writer/Director Joel Hopkins does a good job setting these characters up and giving them a back story without banging us over the head with needless exposition, but as a drama it was lacking some depth. Like I said before, I appreciate that this was not an over-the-top drama as it actually has the right amount of drama mixed in with some dry comedy, but at the same time, it seems Hopkins was relying entirely on Hoffman and Thompson to carry the film, and for the most part, they do. I only wish the screenplay was a bit more polished in certain areas.

That said, overall Last Chance Harvey may not be a fantastic drama/romance/comedy but with fantastic performances from two veteran actors, it is well worth your time and money. Not only will you not regret it, but if it doesnít at least put a smile on your face, I donít know what to tell you...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Feature Commentary Ė Writer/Director Joel Hopkins and Stars Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman provide an informative track. However, be aware that Hoffmanís side is spliced in with him doing the track from New York and the other two from London, so there is no interaction between Hoffman and Thompson, unfortunately.

An Unconventional Love Story: The Making of Last Chance Harvey (16:29; HD) is a nice featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman (amongst others). Itís not a particularly fascinating featurette but still plenty of fun to watch to hear from the two stars.

The Blu-ray also contains the theatrical trailer and a portal for BD-Live ** Blu-ray Exclusive **.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Last Chance Harvey with a 2.35 aspect ratio in the almighty 1080p high-def (MPEG-4 AVC). Overall, itís not a bad transfer with some solid black levels and nice detail on peopleís faces. Color tones look about right and I noticed no imperfections, which is expected for a recent release. Itís not reference material, of course, but itís a fine looking HD video.

Like the movie, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is also low key. The majority of the film is dialogue heavy with the occasional piano music or score which come through nicely on the front and rear channels. Again, not a rich audio experience but certainly reasonable enough for a romantic dramedy.



.::OVERALL::.

Last Chance Harvey may not be a fantastic drama/romance/comedy but with fantastic performances from two veteran actors, it is well worth your time and money. The Blu-ray isnít particularly well packed but since itís a small film with a limited release, Iím glad to get anything.