Thursday, 21 August 2014


This had an American release towards the end of last year under the title 'Last Love', so we Europeans get a delayed release - not a good sign for a German film in English with some subtitled French dialogue.

Michael Caine, appearing in nearly every scene, gives a sturdy performance (some reviewers disagree) as a retired, recently widowed, American professor resident in Paris. He's slowed down by advancing years, and dotes continually on the memory of his deceased wife, who makes occasional appearances in his imagination.
His mundane, spiritless life is enlivened by a chance encounter and subsequent acquaintance with a 20s-something dance instructor (Clemence Poesy) who, recognising his solitude, invites him to come along to her classes (cha-cha and line-dancing). This development could have been cheesy but it doesn't really come over like that.
An event brings Caine's son and daughter over from America (Justin Kirk and, in a small role, the impressively versatile Gillian Anderson), the former in marriage difficulties, who witnesses the, by now, deep platonic friendship between his father and a girl possibly a third of his age, and has serious misgivings about the latter's motives in getting so close.

One cannot avoid mentioning Michael Caine's attempt at an American accent, so self-consciously forced and so far off the mark as to be distracting. Accents were never his strong suit - even English ones from outside London. It makes me wonder why director and writer Sandra Nettelbeck didn't make the character an Englishman, or got an American actor to play the part. However, it's always a pleasure to see Caine on screen in what has got to be the sunset of a deservedly illustrious career.

It would have been easy to have turned this film into a sentimental mush. There is sentiment, certainly - the story demands it. But for the most part it manages to avoid being totally overwhelmed by mawkishness.
It's a needlessly over-long film - and approaching the final sections something happens which made me sit up, saying - "Oh no! Really?" This not only weakened the drama but seemed to provide an excuse for adding a further 10 minutes or so onto a film which now ends up being close on two hours long. A stronger finished product would have emerged by having had the courage of applying scissors.

There are a a few unnecessary postcard-y views of what everyone already knows is one of the most photogenic cities in the entire world. (He can even see you-know-what from his flat!)

Not a bad film, then, but one feels it ought to have been better - and, despite my reservation re his accent, I did like Michael Caine's performance a lot...........................5.5


  1. An American release before a European release - that hardly ever happens

    This film is in the Netflix inventory, so I was able to watch for the cost of my membership. Not a bad deal.

    The story kind of, sort of, worked for me. I think that this is because this is a movie that is better viewed at home.

    I have to admit that I did enjoy the postcard-y-views of the city. I am always a sucker for that.

    The story seemed to have meandered a bit and the ending just didn't ring true. I suspected that it would happen, but I still had to ask: "where did that come from?"

    All in all, a good movie for an evening at home.

    1. Yes. I can well imagine it would be better appreciated as an armchair experience surrounded with home comforts. It's one of those films which would have worked better for me if there'd been less in it rather than crammed, trying to create something weightier.
      As for the 'event' I refer to, it really did seem like that was playing to the gallery in an effort to make it more interesting, whereas it didn't need it.
      I still wouldn't warn anybody off from seeing it though.

  2. I like the sound of this film. I love Michael Caine in anything....he's come a long way from 'Zulu'! I particularly loved him in 'The Cider House Rules' and who can forget 'Educating Rita', also Julie Walters' finest hour, imo?

    1. I too like Michael Caine in just about anything, N G-G, and in this he does give what I thought was a powerful performance, even though others might judge otherwise.
      However, I'm afraid that what I most remember about 'Cider House' (for which he won an Oscar, I know) was his faux-American accent, and very little about the rest of the film.
      And just to be further curmudgeonly, I thought that both he and Julie Walters in 'Rita' were not entirely convincing, though I'm not that keen on the play either, having already seen it on stage (with Bill Travers) before the film version came out.
      But, in order to re-dress the critical balance I do think Caine was at his topmost form in, (still one of my very favourite films of all) 'Hannah and Her Sisters' for which he also won an Oscar, but as best supporting actor in that one.
      But you'll certainly like him in 'Last Love' so do see it.

    2. Well then, we'll have to agree to disagree on those two films but I forgot about 'Hannah', which I also loved. In fact, I love almost all of Woody Allen's films but by far my favourite has got to be 'Annie Hall' because he and Diane Keaton were just fabulous in it. D'you remember when they split up (in the film) and she called him to come over for some reason - I forget why now - but she was absolutely hysterical and he was trying to be the voice of reason? Real comedy that was.

    3. I love 'Annie Hall' as well - though I now find it harder to laugh at the lobster in the kitchen scene than I once did. (The poor thing was only trying to escape, for goodness sake, and a horrible death too!)
      I've often made clear my liking for most of Woody Allen's films, and I never miss one at the cinema even if it's been derided, as so many have been. Even at his worst, and there aren't many that are REALLY bad, he always gives value for money.
      I've seen 'Annie Hall' many times but the scene you describe escapes me for some reason. Good enough reason to watch it for the umpteenth time, I think.