Thursday, January 15, 2009

Emma Thompson's First Blog Post--Talking About Last Chance Harvey

lastchanceharveyposter"Dear Fellow Females,

I've been asked to offer a blog on my new film, ‘Last Chance Harvey' -- which, as a computer illiterate, I get confused with ‘snog' (British slang for kissing) and ‘shog' (Shakespearian word used by Pistol in Henry V meaning ‘leave') neither of which -- I realise-- is the correct interpretation.

But it is a comment, or view, I think, that you want, and here it is:

I shall turn 50 this year, which is not without its odd emotions and has got me thinking about being, well, old. I don't mean decrepit, I mean not infantile, no longer so attached to things, no longer so concerned about what others think, no longer so anxious to prove myself -- you may know the sort of thing I mean. It was rather a treat, therefore, to play what is-- in a way-- my first modern romantic lead in a film that is more romantic than comic (although it has very funny moments and is underscored with irony and subtle humour throughout) where I was not required to be stunningly attractive or in despair or in need of rescue, but simply an ordinary woman in her forties living a rather stale-looking life as best she can.

Along comes this rather brash American (Dustin) and he blows a great hole in her defenses (don't you think we all build them for various stages in life and then FORGET TO DISMANTLE THEM when the danger is past or the trauma has been lived through?). So what you are watching is a sudden flood of real communication (how rare is that?), the sort of communication that shifts the emotional tectonic plates and provokes seismic movement in the soul.

Again, it's rare to watch this on the screen because you need to be a little thoughtful and not require explosions of the literal kind to keep you interested. I'd guess that's a fair description of us.

If you see the picture, and I hope you will because I love it very much and am moved by it every time I see it, you'll notice I am decidedly unglamorous and at least size 16. I really wanted to look like a "normal" woman, I mean in terms of body size.

Actresses seem to be getting tinier and tinier and I do wonder how we think we can present really powerful women, matriarchs and the like, when we seem to insist upon having such attenuated physiques.

So Kate is solid - probably worries a bit about her muffin-top (mine is more like a desk-top these days if you must know) but can't find the energy to worry enough to go to the gym and can't find the time either.

She's a real sort of person, someone I could relate to entirely and I hope you enjoy her. If you do, tell your friends because the more we can get films like this well distributed the more films we can make about (for want of a better epithet) real women as opposed to (let's face it) pretend ones.

Warmest wishes to you all for 2009...From Emma Thompson, a first time blogger at fifty"

Last Chance Harvey is finally wending it’s way to the secondary, tertiary, and--what's the word for fourth class markets? I got the chance to see it at a screening last week (thank you, Women & Film). I took a friend, and she absolutely loved it. So much that happened to the characters in the film resonated with her, so she could say no ill.

I, on the other hand, am a harder sell. When I had to give a response to the production company, I said, "What's not to love about a film that stars Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman?" And that's true. They are sublime actors who bring their characters, warts and all, to life. But for all that, Last Chance Harvey is a romantic comedy that pretty much follows the formula for the genre. As realistic as Thompson and Hoffman make their characters, the overall effect of the film is, for me, hampered by the predictability of the action. Cabs are always available, plot points are always clearly made and the only suspense I felt when the couple missed their grand meeting with each other was whether the filmmakers had cribbed the plot line from An Affair To Remember. There is, then, a dissonance between the quality of the acting and the quality of the script.

But, as my friend might tell you, that's just the snobby, arrogant film critic in me coming out. The egalitarian feminist in me says: go see it this weekend (remember, that's when the box office numbers have the most weight) and make up your own mind. These days what with the economy as it is and the price of movie tickets (and popcorn...and soda--my God!), my final critique of a film is: was it worth the money? Yes, definitely--and, really, then some. Because formula be damned, this film has Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, the fifty year old actress, filmmaker, and--oh-- first time blogger.

Cross-posted to MidLifeBloggers

8 comments:

  1. Left a comment over at midlife bloggers. The site looks great! I'll have to see the movie but wait til it comes out in DVD!

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  2. starrlife: I dithered about whether to be so honest in my critique because your response is exactly what I didn't want. DON"T wait for the DVD; DO go to the movie theatre ASAP. The only way we're going to get more--and better--films made about midlifers is by supporting them at the box office. Don't allow the money men to say, "Oh midlifers, they don't go to the movies. They just wait for the DVD to come out. They're a bad investment for us..."

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  3. Crumbs! Emma Thompson is older than I am! Somehow that makes me really depressed. Not that she looks old. Just that I watched her in very funny comic sketches when I was young (the Victorian mouse sketch from the days before she was famous doesn't seem to be available, but it is very funny if you ever find it.

    Glad to see you back, Jane.

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  4. I'm gonna go, and I'm gonna take the parental units, too!

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  5. Jane, Thanks for sharing Emma's blog. I have always liked her and I can't wait to go and see the movie. Good for her for being a "real" woman,too!

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  6. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Ummmm....no...sorry. A film where the woman is in her forties and the man in his seventies is NOT my idea of a "midlife" story. This is where the man gets incredible "last chance" options and the woman gets....a man who is dead long into his eighties. A man can get an incredible woman more than twenty years younger and the woman...well, sex must not be that important to her. Also having a partner around her age is not possible if she is in "last chance" mode too. This is NOT my midlife fantasy. It's rather sickening, actually. Because it's saying that after the forties, you can't even qualify for a man in his seventies. It DOESN'T sound like a feminist movie, but it DOES sound like the oldest scripted fantasy of older midlife film executives who marry women half their age - smartly sold off as a chick movie with a chick hating subliminal theme. Perfect!

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  7. What a great and honest film critique. I share your dismay for the predictable, yet I do so love the good acting. I am curious about this film.

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  8. Dustin Hoffman = 71
    Emma Thompson = 50

    Lame.

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So--whaddaya think?