Amidst the countless romantic comedies released within the year, one of the vastly underrated flicks of 2009 - Last Chance Harvey - was thrown into an almost entirely unpublicised theatrical release. Bombing at the Box Office, it received a partially better response on DVD/Blu-ray, but still not enough to fully compensate how enjoyable the film is.
New Yorker Harvey Shine (Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman), an estranged father and divorcee, travels to London to attend his daughter's wedding. Whilst there, he meets lonely Kate Walker, a preserved down-on-her-luck Londoner who spends her days either working or taking care of her mother (Eileen Atkins).
Upon discovering his daughter's plans of allowing her stepfather to walk her down the aisle, Harvey decides to head back to New York prematurely. Unfortunately for him his plane is cancelled, but luckily for us, he meets Kate.
Entranced by one another, the pair talk and wander around the idyllic setting of London.
Clearly uninspiring but for Last Chance Harvey, the much-loved leads carry the film entirely with their uniquely enthusiastic and lovable-selves. Charismatic and enjoyable to watch as a pair, both characters set out, ultimately, on a case of self-discovery, all-the-while re-igniting their passion to become entwined with another person. Almost identical to two, love-struck teenagers, both characters spend the film flirting; Kate precariously whilst Harvey takes her in his stride, forceful but not enough to frighten the woman.
Aided by the beautifully perfect Summer-setting of London, the romance between the pair gradually, but surely, becomes stronger as the film progresses.
Convincing Harvey to return to his daughter's wedding reception, he enlists the help of Kate - cue the wardrobe-change montage - to accompany him. There, reunited with his daughter, spouts a speech undoubtedly contrived, but manages to retain some sort of heartfelt, compassionate message most will quiver at the knees from.
Co-stars Kathy Baker, Eileen Atkins and James Brolin are severely underused, but clearly hold as simply the blocks behind the main stars' foundation. However, the chemistry between Harvey and his daughter (Liane Balaban) holds strong in their few scenes together, providing an entirely relatable father-child relationship which is heartwarming.
While the film isn't all that challenging, it's elegantly written by London-born writer/director Joel Hopkins. Based in the city the film is set, Hopkins' clear knowledge of Britain's capital is noticeable, and his countless shots of the surrounding area clearly aids as a partial advertisement for London itself - which, in my eyes, isn't a bad thing.
A significantly simple love story, starring two immensely enjoyable actors with chemistry so explosive that i feel i must re-watch Stranger Than Fiction to see their very few scenes together once again. The film proves, first-handedly, that you can find love at any age.