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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

What a difference a day makes

Last Chance Harvey (2008) on IMDb

Plot Overview

the postmanLondon postman Paddy remarks on the enduring good looks of spinster Kate Walker (Emma Thompson) as he delivers mail to her mother Maggie (Eileen Atkins)—mother & daughter live near each other—and wishes he were younger. Her mom has made it her project to find Kate a mate, telling her, “Time and tide [wait for no man,] Kate.” Kate's colleague & friend Oonagh (Bronagh Gallagher) has set her up with a blind date, but the guy is part of a younger set. The idea, we suppose, is that Kate is already too old for a lot of men, and older men might just pass on their way like the postman. It's now or never.

The camera is alternately tracking New Yorker Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) as he prepares to attend the wedding of his daughter Susan (Liane Balaban) in London. Whereas time is passing Kate by, it's a changing tide that's about to do Harvey in. His daughter works in London and is about to marry abroad after already having joined the orbit of her mother & new husband. Harvey is a fifth wheel at the wedding, but while he's out of town his job (as jingle writer) is in jeopardy of being taken over by his digital-savvy, younger co-workers.

These two sorry individuals find themselves imbibing spirits in the same bar and striking up a conversation. Mean­while, Maggie has been suspiciously watching her new Polish neighbor futzing around in his yard. It's when the neighbor brings over a gift that these two start acting neighborly, and when Harvey springs for a new dress for Kate to wear accompanying him to some wedding festivities, they become “more than friends.”


royal flushOne of Kenny Rogers's songs concerned a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train, who offered the passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie Harvey knows when to seize the opportunity (“This is real”) despite Kate's ambivalence.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. Harvey knows when to give up on his job (“I quit”) that's inter­fering with his last chance for happiness.

We have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” Maggie knows when to walk away from the door when she sees who's calling on her (“Poland's answer to Jack the Ripper.”)

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” When Harvey first takes his leave of Kate at the train station, he suddenly realizes he should have continued their encounter, so he runs to catch the Paddington Express before its doors close.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Don't leave the theater before watching the final scene played with the end credits.

Production Values

” (2008) was written and directed by Joel Hopkins. Its cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, James Brolin, Kathy Baker, and Eileen Atkins. The lead performances by Dustin Hoffman & Emma Thompson were top-notch. The supporting cast had little to do. The Polish neighbor scenes accompanied by sinister back­ground music capitalized on public perceptions to make him seem seedy. In Randall M. Miller's book on how Holly­wood views ethnic groups, he writes that Slavs aren't like Jews inter­acting with the public in their shops, but they are often employed in-house as servants, thus out of the public's view resulting in their unfamiliarity with them. In the public's ignorance they're perceived as coarse and oversexed. He writes:

Slavs are … Russians, Poles, or what not—

Slavs were not as conspicuous as other immigrant groups because their work and settle­ment patterns were significantly different. …

The most popular Slavik image was that of the “peasant” … and, like animals, [they] were super-fecund, with “a rather gross attitude towards sexual morality” (136–139).

MPAA rated it PG–13 for brief strong language. It was technically well made. Especially note­worthy were the mirror surfaces reflecting Harvey in some of his early scenes where his life parallels Kate's. Also clever were the cell phone inter­ruptions from Kate's mom suspicious of her neighbor while Kate was hesitant about accepting Harvey. Cinema­tog­rapher John De Borman did a marvelous job with the London setting.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was a very satisfying film about accepting romance before it's too late. It was easy on our sensibilities but light on action. A mature person's romance story.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Miller, Randall M. The Kaleidoscopic Lens: how Hollywood views ethnic groups. Englewood, NJ: Ozer. © 1980. Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. WEB.