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Last Love Blu-ray Review

Last Love (2013) movie poster Last Love

US Theatrical Release: November 1, 2013 / Running Time: 116 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Sandra Nettelbeck / Writers: Sandra Nettelbeck (screenplay); Françoise Dorner (novel La Douceur Assassine)

Cast: Michael Caine (Mr. Matthew Morgan), Clémence Poésy (Pauline Laubie), Justin Kirk (Miles Morgan), Jane Alexander (Joan Morgan), Michèle Goddet (Madame Dune), Anne Alvaro (Madame Léry), Gillian Anderson (Karen Morgan), Yannick Choirat (Lucien), Deshaun Strong (voice of Kyle Morgan)

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Michael Caine seems to be for director Christopher Nolan what John Ratzenberger is for Pixar Animation Studios: a good luck charm asked to contribute to every new film. Starting with playing Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins,
Caine has appeared in five consecutive films directed by his fellow London to Hollywood transplant; next year's Interstellar will be six in a row. That's an enviable position for any actor to be in, but it's far from the only thing Caine has going for him these days.

The two-time Academy Award-winning 80-year-old actor remains active in a variety of major films. He lent his voice to Gnomeo & Juliet and Cars 2, remained familiar to young moviegoers playing Josh Hutcherson's grandfather in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and featured prominently in this year's surprise hit caper Now You See Me. But Caine isn't content with just voiceover work and supporting roles. He continues to hold leading man duties when asked, filling the titular role of 2009's Harry Brown and taking top billing in this year's Last Love.

An old retired American (Michael Caine) and a young dance teacher (Clémence Poésy) share a hot dog lunch in a Paris park in "Last Love."

Released under its working title Mr. Morgan's Last Love in a number of European nations during the late summer and early fall, the film centers on Matthew Morgan (Caine), an American expatriate in Paris. Widowed three years ago, Morgan appears to be all on his own when he meets Pauline (Clémence Poésy), a young French woman who defends him on a public bus. Morgan, a retired philosophy teacher, and Pauline, a cha-cha instructor, somehow hit it off and form a friendship over another chance encounter and Morgan's attendance of one of her dance classes.

Despite the extreme age gap, the friendship feels like romance, with Pauline reminding the old man of the beloved wife he still sees. When Morgan lands in the hospital on a botched overdose attempt, Pauline meets his two adult children, secret-harboring Miles (Justin Kirk) and self-pampering family woman Karen (Gillian Anderson). Miles disapproves of his father's confounding affiliation with the pretty Parisian, while the circumstances of his mother's death still cast a pall over this strained family.

Caine has had a long and illustrious career in film, somehow appearing in everything from prestige dramas to Woody Allen movies to The Muppet Christmas Carol to Austin Powers 3 and Jaws 4 without skipping a beat, shedding his clout, becoming typecast, or finding himself less than in demand. While Caine can deftly handle a variety of work on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, one thing he's never been great at is hiding his distinctive Cockney accent. Last Love asks him to do that, though seemingly not until well into the movie. His American accent comes and goes (mostly going) and evolves. It's a constant distraction and dramatic deterrent, but it's not the film's only problem.

Having flown in from America, Mr. Morgan's children (Gillian Anderson and Justin Kirk) are ill at ease in his Paris home.

Most viewers will find Last Love slow, dull, and uneventful. I appreciate a leisurely-paced character study as much as anyone, but these characters are one-dimensional and their destinations are clear long before they are revealed. There's really nothing to Morgan and Pauline's "romance." She reminds him of his late wife, he reminds her of her deceased father.
They spend time together amicably, but without relating to one another in ways we can see. The film does not improve any, however, when it moves from this relationship to the Morgan family drama that makes the flight over to France.

IMDb generously classifies this as a comedy, but there's nary a laugh to be had. The romance is really one that exists beyond the grave. While drama is a-plenty, none of it is compelling enough to hold your attention or interest. Last Love's ineffectiveness troubles the typical viewer, but even more so the critic, who recognizes that the film seems to hold personal significance to its screenwriter/director Sandra Nettelbeck, a worldly German best known for Mostly Martha (2001), a romantic dramedy remade for America as No Reservations (2007). Nettelbeck can't be blamed for the story, which is attributed to the 2006 novel La Douceur Assassine (loosely translated as The Sweetness Murders) by French actress and playwright Françoise Dorner. But while not remaining too faithful to the text, the filmmaker drains the tale of any appeal, making this film feel much longer than its nearly two-hour runtime and not nearly as good as the 6.9 average voter rating currently held (and soon to steeply drop) on IMDb.

Less than two months after beginning a US theatrical run too minor to even entail box office tracking, Last Love hits Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow from Image Entertainment.

Last Love Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.97
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($27.97 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

This release offers average picture and sound, which for a Blu-ray of a new movie at the end of 2013 is pretty darn good. The 1.85:1 video exhibits nothing worse than light grain and a very slight flicker. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack does little to distinguish itself, but nor does it pose any problems. The English SDH subtitles are a welcome inclusion that some Image BDs go without. Most of the film's sparse French dialogue is translated by burned-in subtitle.

Matthew and Pauline spoon in this deleted scene. Justin Kirk gets silly in the outtakes reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Last Love's Blu-ray includes two bonus features.

First up is a long reel of many short deleted scenes (16:06) which still bear the film's working title.
They show us many unused moments, but none of them are of much consequence, apart from maybe Pauline's seat belt backstory.

The other inclusion is a series of outtakes (9:37) consisting of long takes blown by goofs and stomach growls, coming apart with laughter and foul language.

The menu plays scored clips under the American title. The Blu-ray doesn't support bookmarks, but does resume unfinished playback.

The disc opens with trailers for Blood and Day of the Falcon, neither of which is menu-accessible. Last Love's own trailer is unfortunately missing here, which is strange because Image Entertainment is usually good about including those.

Michael Caine and Clémence Poésy get caught in the rain in "Last Love."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You'd have to be a pretty big fan of Michael Caine, Clémence Poésy, Justin Kirk, Gillian Anderson, or director Sandra Nettelbeck to feel that seeing Last Love was time well-spent. This gloomy drama goes nowhere and takes forever to get there. While it's clear that genuine emotion and personal experience have gone into this film, neither does anything for the viewer but put them to sleep knowing early on just how this will end. While it's nice to see Caine still acting in his 80s and in roles of substance, his spotty American accent hinders this disappointing film enough to warrant a character rewrite.

Image's Blu-ray offers an okay feature presentation, but, like the film itself, the 25 minutes of extras prove to be an endurance challenge.

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Related Reviews:
New: SweetwaterAdoreGrey Gardens | 2013 Independent Films: Before MidnightStuck in LoveFrances HaThe English Teacher

Michael Caine:
Now You See MeThe Dark Knight RisesThe Muppet Christmas CarolDeathtrapThe PrestigeJourney 2: Mysterious IslandCars 2Gnomeo & Juliet

Clémence Poésy: 127 HoursHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Justin Kirk: Vamps | Gillian Anderson: The Fall: Series 1Shadow DancerThe X-Files: I Want to Believe
AmourVenusShopgirlThe Last StationShall We Dance?BarrymoreMidnight in Paris

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Reviewed December 30, 2013.



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