Wednesday, January 15, 2014

last love

In Last Love Michael Caine plays American Matthew Morgan, a recently widowed man trying to find some meaning in his life. The retired college professor and his wife Joan (Jane Alexander) live in Paris. As the film opens, Matthew is bereft when Joan dies after a long illness. He is only going through the motions of his daily life, for three years, until he has a chance meeting one day on a bus with Pauline Laubie (Clémence Poésy, Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films). Pauline is also a teacher — a dance teacher. She encourages Matthew to come and try her class, and he does one day, with a friend, Colette (Anne Alvaro), and attempts the cha-cha.

He is strongly drawn to Pauline and keeps going back to her class. Joan still appears to him at times, when he feels lonely and has the need to talk to her. It is a running joke that Matthew doesn't speak French, and only moved to France to please Joan, but for the first time in his life he tries to speak a little, with Pauline. Spending time with Pauline is helping Matthew to unthaw a little, but that becomes almost too painful for him to bear and he "self-medicates" himself into the hospital. As Matthew and Pauline try to understand what sort of relationship they are forming, Matthew's grown children, Miles and Karen (Justin Kirk and Gillian Anderson), with whom he's never been close, show up to complicate matters even further, "Joan wanted kids, and I just wanted her."

Joan and Matthew in the park (Jane Alexander and Michael Caine)
Another lunch in the park, with Matthew and Pauline (Clémence Poésy)
Miles (Justin Kirk) and Karen (Gillian Anderson) in Paris to see their dad, reluctantly
The Blu-ray of Last Love is in English, but some dialogue is in French, with subtitles. The film has a running time of 115 minutes. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1, widescreen format, and it looks great on a large-scale high-definition television screen. The colors are sharp and details, like texture, pop in scenes featuring Paris and the gorgeous French countryside, as well as in the beautifully-lit interiors of Matthew and Pauline's apartments and the places they visit. The sound (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), including dialogue and musical score, is crisp and clear. Extras on the disc include deleted scenes and outtakes. The film (also known as Mr. Morgan's Last Love) is not rated, but the story, although sad, is appropriate for any age. Kids would likely find it too slow and talky. There are two film previews for R-rated films included on the Blu-ray disc, and one of them is definitely not appropriate for younger viewers.

Director Sandra Nettelbeck (Mostly Martha) based Last Love on Francoise Dorner's novel La Douceur Assassine. She wrote the screenplay with Caine in mind, "I wrote the second script entirely for him. ... I couldn’t stop seeing him in my mind when I was writing ... He read it and said yes right away ... He understood what it was about and why I wanted him to do it.”

Caine and Poésy are very nice together, and the beautiful-looking film is full of emotional nuance. Viewers may at first dislike Matthew's son Miles, but he has a complicated relationship with his father and at least wants to try to understand him — while his sister Karen seems to have come to Paris, not to see her father in the hospital, but to go shopping. Last Love is about love, family, life, death, and grief. It's even got a bit of a twist. It's understated, but it's a nice showcase of 80 year-old acting veteran Michael Caine at the top of his game.

Originally published on Blogcritics: Blu-ray Review: ‘Last Love’


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