Richard von Busack of Mr. Movie Times and Metroactive.com writes:
About an hour into into Joel Hopkinsâ€™ "Last Chance Harvey," the slack I was going to give this film ran out. Two-thirds of it is civilized late-life romance: the 71 but presentable Dustin Hoffman cast against a nigh-50 Emma Thompson. Harvey is a New York commercial jingle writer with unfulfilled ambitions to have been a jazz pianist. Now he is even past his expiration date in the advertising industry, and he loses his job. Bad timing: Harvey is in the middle of an inconvenient trip to London to see his daughter, Susan (Liane Balaban), get married.
Harvey is alert, even in defeat, and we can believe his airport-lounge pickup of the equally forlorn Londoner Kate (Thompson), an aging singleton, the veteran of one too many blind dates. After a first meeting, Kate and Harvey walk around London a bit. The high-summer river light in the south bank makes the city look new and fresh. Just when we expect some unexpected sweetness, the movie goes salty; the couple stumbles across a group of buskers, but theyâ€™re playing some raucous â€™50s rockabilly, not something sweeter, more old-movie romantic.
Thompsonâ€™s comedic frailty and gentle drawl are, as always, fun to watch. Thompson and Hoffman bring something to each other, a sense of opposing civilizations, the complement of American pushiness and British quiet desperation. And then comes the third act. Where is it? Lost in the mail, apparently, so director/writer Hopkins pilfers a setup from "An Affair to Remember" by having Harvey set up a meeting in a public place and â€¦ . Well, the principle â€œThey liked it once, theyâ€™ll love it twiceâ€ doesnâ€™t quite fit. Hereâ€™s the film runs out of chances, as it wades through rote misunderstandings; a late-period, unlikely triumph; a whiff of abortion regret; and the stodgy reminder that divorce is hardest on the children. Even in this badly played end game, Hopkins shows some taste. I liked the idea, right before the final crane shot of the Thames and the fadeout, of having the two think about their separateness a little. A peleton of bicyclists cuts between them as they stand their opposite grounds; itâ€™s a speedy symbol of life passing them by at top speed unless they act now.