out of Five
Running time: 116
Mr Morgan's Last Love is a nicely acted drama that benefits from its Parisian location and some strong characters, but it's ultimately something of a disappointment thanks to a frustrating script that
lacks focus and isn't sure which story to tell.
What's it all about?
Directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, Mr Morgan's Last Love is adapted from a novel by Francoise Dorner and stars Michael Caine as Matthew Morgan, a lonely American widower living in Paris following the death of his wife (Jane Alexander, who appears in visions) three years previously. When he meets a young French woman (Clemence Poesy as Pauline) on a bus, the pair strike up an unlikely friendship based on the fact that she reminds him of his dead wife and he reminds her of her dead father.
However, despite his new-found friendship with Pauline, Morgan nonetheless attempts suicide, which brings his estranged adult children (Justin Kirk as Miles and Gillian Anderson as Karen) over to
Paris to try and persuade him to return to America. However, after Karen returns home, Miles decides to stay in Paris and thrash out some of his issues with his father, with Pauline trying to help as best she can.
Caine reins in his usual twinkly-eyed persona in favour of something a bit gloomier, but it backfires slightly as the part could have used some of that spark; similarly, his American accent is frequently
distractingly bad, particularly when he tries to speak French. However, the supporting cast are excellent: Poesy is charming and likeable without being too cutesy and there's strong work from Kirk as Miles, while Anderson is so good as Karen that she completely steals the film, making it something of a blow when she disappears after only a handful of scenes, and the film never really recovers.
In addition, Michael Bertl's cinematography makes both Paris and Poesy look stunning and the film benefits from some authentic location work as well as an appealing score from Hans Zimmer.
The main problem is that the script lacks focus and can't decide which story to tell - is it the story of the relationship between Morgan and Pauline, the story of Morgan trying to reconnect with his estranged son or the story of Morgan trying to move on from the loss of his wife? Unfortunately, none of those plot strands are dealt with in an emotionally satisfying fashion, which only makes it doubly frustrating as it's easy to see the film this could have been.
What's worse is that, without giving anything away, the film sends a very strange message at the end, which doesn't make sense on an emotional level, just as Morgan's suicide attempt halfway through the film doesn't make sense, given the positive effect Pauline has on his life.
Despite some strong performances and some intriguing potential, Mr Morgan’s Last Stand is ultimately both disappointing and frustrating, as you can feel the film gradually slipping away from the much better version it could have been.
Mr Morgan's Last Love (M)