Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie)
Emma Thompson (Love Actually)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
James Brolin (Catch Me If You Can)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Michael Landes (Final Destination 2)
Angela Griffin (Waterloo Road)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Divorced American Harvey Shine writes jingles for television commercials, a job not in keeping with his dream of being a jazz pianist and composer. His position at work is tenuous as he departs for London to attend his daughter Susan’s wedding. Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, he encounters Kate Walker, a single Londoner who works collecting statistics from passengers as they pass through the terminals. Tired and anxious to get to his hotel, Harvey brusquely dismisses her when she approaches him with the survey.
Arriving at his hotel Harvey discovers that he is the only wedding guest booked in there. He is hurt to discover that has his ex-wife Jean has rented a house to accommodate everyone who is attending from the States, except him. At the dinner on the night preceding the wedding, it becomes increasingly clear Harvey is now an outsider to his daughter’s life and is being excluded from the clan around his ex-wife’s new husband Brian. Their politeness towards him is insincere and makes him feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Susan tells Harvey that as her step-father Brian has been more of a father to her in the last few years than he has, she is going to ask him to give her way at her wedding. Clearly upset, but accepting of her decision Harvey lies and tells Susan that he will be attending the ceremony but not the reception because he has to urgently return to the States.
Meanwhile, Kate is on a blind date that is not going well. After taking a phone call from her neurotic mother Maggie, she returns to the table to discover that her date has bumped into friends at the bar and invited them to join them. Feeling socially awkward and excluded from the group she eventually goes home.
The following morning Harvey attends the wedding and then leaves immediately for the airport, having been excluded again and seated at the back of the church instead of the front in his true place next to his daughter. Owing to the heavy London traffic he is delayed and misses his flight back to the States. When he calls his boss to advise him he will be returning later than planned he is fired. Needing to drown his sorrows, Harvey goes to an airport bar and sees Kate who is there having a solitary lunch. Recognizing her from the day before, he apologizes for his rude behavior. She initially resists the attention he is paying her but soon they’re both glad to finally have an honest, genuine conversation with someone.
Harvey, feeling lonely and not wanting to stay in an hotel by the airport, follows Kate and joins her on the train to Paddington station. He asks if he can walk her to her writing class on the South Bank. She accepts his offer and is pleased when he offers to wait for her and meet her afterwards. As they stroll along the South Bank River Thames, Harvey mentions he is missing Susan’s wedding reception, and Kate urges him to go. He finally relents, but only if she will accompany him. Kate insists that she is not properly dressed for such an occasion, so Harvey buys her a dress and the two head to the Grosvenor House Hotel, where they are welcomed by Susan and squeezed in at two places on the children’s table. When ‘the-father-of-the-bride’ is called upon to make a toast, Brian rises and begins to speak but Harvey interrupts claiming his right as her biological father. He then delivers a touching, eloquent speech that redeems him with his daughter and endears him to Kate.
Following the bride and groom’s first wedding dance, the groom calls Harvey up to dance with his daughter. He happily does so, and then all the guests join them on the dance floor. Harvey is enjoying himself on the dance floor and Kate is left at the children’s table, finding herself again in the same position as on the blind date. She starts to feel socially awkward and out of place, alone in the room full of strangers. Harvey is dancing and appears to have forgotten Kate. She bears her feelings as long as she can and eventually quietly leaves. Soon after Harvey returns to the table to find her gone.Harvey, now looking for Kate, goes into the corridor and seeing her waiting for the elevator, he disappears into a side room where there is a piano and begins to softly play one of his own jazz compositions. She hears the music and follows it, finding Harvey smiling and waiting for her. He asks her to stay and return to the reception so he can dance her socks off. She agrees and they have a great time together.
Following the reception, Harvey and Kate walk and talk through London until dawn. Upon parting they exchange a single, gentle kiss and agree to meet at noon later that day. Back at his hotel, Harvey experiences serious heart palpitations having had to use the stairs as both lifts are out of order. He is taken to hospital. Forced to stay over night for treatment he misses the appointment with Kate, who turned up as agreed and waited for him. Upon being discharged the next day Harvey receives a call from his boss who has discovered that he needs Harvey to continue handling the account at work. He urges Harvey to return to as soon as possible. Harvey quits his job, deciding he prefers to remain in London and explore the possibility of a relationship with Kate. He tracks down Kate’s work number and calls her to explain but she refuses to take the call. He goes looking for her at the airport and eventually tracks her down at her writing class. He explains why he missed their rendezvous and tells her that he wants to stay in London and begin a relationship with her. Overcautious about romance because of so much past emotional pain, Kate resists, but finally agrees to give things a chance to his suggestion that they see what the future might bring.
As they slowly stroll away along the South Bank, Harvey invites Kate to ask him the questions she would have asked him at the airport terminal, and this time, he happily answers, telling her his place of residence “…is in transition.”
The direction provided by Joel Hopkins is impressive as he extracts excellent performances from the lead actors. The background music score, which is provided by Dickon Hinchliffe is also worth an applause as it is soothing and perfectly compliments the story. The movie would have turned out to be an average fare if it was not for Hoffman and Thompson.
‘Last Chance Harvey’ is a delightful and competent movie, which deserves a watch.