Last Chance Harvey

We are already familiar with the noteworthy skills of Dustin Hoffman ("Meet the Fockers" and "Stranger Than Fiction") and Emma Thompson ("Nanny McPhee" and "Harry Potter" plus two Oscars for other work) so let's focus instead on the script. In my opinion, this script came closer than any in recent memory to capture the awkwardness one experiences when confronted with someone you used to know very, very well, but from whom you have grown distant. The pauses and verbal fumblings were never overemphasized or strained, but instead seemed sincerely awkward. You could almost see the brain scrambling for some new topic or response that would break the silence.

Hoffman's character has made a very good living writing jingles for radio and television ads. Evidently this not only supported his wife quite well, but it also embarrassed her. Consequently she divorced him and married an extremely un-embarrassing man, handsomely played by James Brolin ("Catch Me if You Can"). Their now adult daughter has moved to London, met an young American fellow and they are holding their wedding ceremony in England. This means Hoffman has to leave his job at a critical time to fly across the Atlantic, only to discover that his daughter has asked her stepfather to walk her down the aisle.

In the meantime, Thompson's character has a tedious job taking surveys at Heathrow Airport and fielding numerous calls each day from her needy mother, played by the much-heralded Eileen Atkins (most recently won an Emmy for her role in "Cranford"), who is convinced that her new neighbor is harboring a corpse in his woodshed.

Neither of our schlubs has much to hope for. By the time they encounter each other in the airport coffee shop/bar, their opening banter is about who is having the worst day. This is an over-40s romantic comedy that is sweet, observant and satisfying, with no car chases, no sweaty bodies, no blowie uppie stuff. Each of these stars has done better work, but we were there to be entertained, not enlightened, and they did the job.

As a side note, I LOVED their walks along the Thames, as they strolled past one landmark after another, each indelibly etched in my memory from my own happy travels to London.