I am, unabashedly, a romantic at heart. I'm not so far gone as to believe in the existence of "a one and only" but I do believe in the existence of "a couple of ones." I also happen to believe that the universe is orchestrating a huge game of hide and seek between those ones and me, but nevermind.
I say all of this as context for the following: Every so often, I love me a good rom-com film. When I'm stuck on a plane, I really love me a good rom-com because, well, witty banter and a pleasant ending where two people fall in love is always appreciated when you're hurling through the air at 500 miles per hour.
So on my flight last week to Ethiopia, despite being delayed by nearly two hours on the runway, I happily tucked in to a late-night veggie pasta dinner and Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson's "Last Chance Harvey". This rom-com is set in London, which I reckon I should love even more since it's so easy to imagine that someday, maybe, I could be Dustin's Emma.
But no. What I have to say about this movie after two years of living in London is this: Finally, proof on the big screen that romantic meet-ups can't possibly happen in this city without a crazy suspension of reality, and on the rare chance that reality does get suspended, what results is enough to make me want to throw up. Here's my play-by-play of the movie to save you the time and disappointment.
Last Chance Harvey - a summary of three acts
Act 1- the coincidental first encounter at the airport where she asks him to fill out a survey. He says no and then stalks her at a bar later while she reads and he drinks too much.
My commentary on this encounter: Reality check, anyone? In the London I know, you can't just meet in an airport bar, follow the potential love-interest onto the Heathrow Express from carriage to carriage, hop off at Paddington together, and then walk outside arm-in-arm into Trafalgar Square- as Dustin and Emma's alter egos do in the movie. As everyone knows, airport bars no longer exist, having been replaced by Gordon Ramsey gastropubs at Heathrow. Carriage doors and aisle-ways on the Express are always too jammed with luggage to carriage hop. Also, no one walks out of Paddington station and into Trafalgar Square in one screen shot. In reality, you have to take the decrepit Bakerloo Underground train or the very ripe-smelling No. 15 bus, which is not such a pleasurable journey for making googly eyes at someone I can assure.
Act 2 - The moment happens where he needs to be saved from himself and only she can do it by convincing him to make up for all the years he has let his daugter down by going to her wedding reception that is just about to start at a fancy hotel far away from Trafalgar Square. They dance and fall in love at the wedding.
My commentary: Point of fact, you and the new love of your life can't go shopping for the perfect dress for your daughter's perfect night time wedding reception at the Grosvenor Hotel just twenty minutes before the reception starts on a Friday night. Stores here close at 6 pm, sometimes 7pm if you're lucky, wherein after that hour, you will be forced to say... "Imagine, me here without my frock" and eat at KFC because you haven't made a reservation anywhere else. By the way, you can dance at KFC but people tend to look at you funny. 'Nuff said about magically transporting oneself from Trafalagar Square to Grosvenor Hotel.
Act 3 - Despite leaving the airport, the couple trip over previous relationship baggage when he stands her up for their next date and she refuses initially to see him again. Nevertheless, they both land on their feet just in time for the happily ever after moment.
My commentary: Ahem... You can't just dump your briefcase/luggage into an airport rubbish bin located at the check-in counter in an attempt to quickly buy a ticket to anywhere to get past security so you can right some budding relationship wrong with the woman who works in the departure lounge area. You can't do this because there are no rubbish bins in the airports anymore due to bomb threats and leaving your luggage alone for more than a second will cause police to evacuate you and everyone else in the airport. Game over. The end. Try falling back in love with police-issued handcuffs and bullet-proof glass partitions is what I say.
So, as you can read, I wasn't much of a fan of Last Chance Harvey. On top of all of these incredibly unbelievable events that have to happen to bring these two people together, it's also worth noting that they also have to overcome the cheesiest dialogue ever written. At one point toward the end of the film, while Emma is monologuing at Dustin about how she's better off alone, better to not get hurt than to believe in elusive love, I and the old guy sitting next to me catch myself saying out loud "blah, blah, blah" over top of the dialogue. I spent the better part of the week in Ethiopia sick to my stomach, and in part, I blame this movie.
Last Chance Harvey. It gives rom-coms, reality and London a bad name. Sigh.