Last Love is more somnambulistic than taking a bottle of sleeping pills, a course of action that Paris resident Matthew (Michael Caine) repeatedly resorts to in order to escape his grief over the death of wife Joan (Jane Alexander).
Matthew speaks to Joan’s ghost but finds a new, live partner in young Pauline (Clémence Poésy) — she reminds him of Joan, and he reminds her of her dead father. If their May-December relationship doesn’t fully subsume the material in quasi-incestuous affection, the amour she eventually feels for Matthew’s son, Miles (Justin Kirk) — a carbon copy of his estranged dad — does, albeit not enough to compensate for the film’s torpor.
Mawkishly adapted from Françoise Dorner’s novel by Sandra Nettelbeck (Mostly Martha), the proceedings are so gentle that no dramatic momentum materializes. Scene after scene is defined by blunt exposition and gooey maxims, not to mention cornball visual metaphors like Matthew, newly enlivened by Pauline, unsealing his apartment window and literally opening himself to the world.
An alternately angry and morose Caine is powerless to prop up such swill; the only true liveliness comes from a brief cameo by Gillian Anderson, who, as Matthew’s daughter, lights up a cigarette in a hospital but, alas, fails to burn down the place — or the film.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 30, 2013