Thursday, July 10, 2014

“The Last Of Robin Hood”– Movie Review



The Summer Semester of my movie class resumed with a screening of the drama, “The Last Of Robin Hood” , starring Dakota Fanning, Susan Sarandon and Kevin Kline.


When actor Errol Flynn has an affair with a teenage girl, will her mother approve or try to end the relationship?


In Hollywood of the 1950’s, actor Errol Flynn (Kline) is an aging movie star whose days of playing in swashbuckler roles like his legendary Robin Hood are long behind him. With his current marriage in its final stages, Flynn spots Beverly (Fanning), a young woman who – like many in this town – is an aspiring actress. Taking her back to his home, Flynn seduces her, unaware of the fact that at the time, she is only 15 years old. Ever the ladies’ man, Flynn butters up Florence (Sarandon), Beverly’s star-struck mother, who lives vicariously through her daughter. Whether she’s simply naïve or deliberately ignorant, she acts unaware of her daughter’s tryst with this Hollywood icon.

Ultimately, the illicit affair is revealed to Florence and she is none too pleased (or so she wishes the couple to believe). Nevertheless, the couple convince Florence that their mutual affection is genuine, so she agrees to help in hiding their unconventional romance from the press. Flynn’s influence gets Beverly small movie roles, so he takes her on shoots in Africa and Cuba, despite Florence’s apparent objections; believing that the movie legend is truly making an effort to help her daughter break into show business, Florence chooses not to interfere.

Unfortunately, after years of substance abuse, Flynn’s body is starting to betray him and he becomes ill.  While on a trip to Vancouver in October of 1959, Flynn finally dies and is discovered by Beverly, who has by this point become his fiancée. Upon returning to her home in Hollywood, Beverly is naturally besieged by the press, who have chosen to spin their romance into a lurid tale of tabloid fodder. Florence’s alcoholism spirals out of control and a court rules to take Beverly away from her once she is deemed to be an unfit mother. But when Florence seeks her own fame and fortune by collaborating with a writer who hopes to author a book on Flynn’s affair with her daughter, what impact will this have on her relationship with Beverly when she learns of the scheme?


This is a very peculiar movie and I’m not quite sure where to begin. With so many familiar names in its cast, it’s a wonder how they chose to appear in a film with a script so questionable. Putting aside some occasionally illogical and contrived dialog, “The Last Of Robin Hood” suffers from some structural problems as well. As it turns out, the majority of its story is told via flashback as Florence is interviewed by the journalist who tape records her for his proposed book; this might not ordinarily be a problem, except for how it’s presented. The script starts out right after Flynn’s death, then flashes back to tell how the two met, followed by flashing forward to see Florence beginning her interviewing sessions. Follow that so far? 

As stellar as its cast may be, therein actually lies another problem. Kevin Kline is perfect as Errol Flynn, but given the story, was he the right choice for the role? Basically, the story is about the relationship between mother and daughter, with Beverly ostensibly being the heroine and Florence the antagonist; as a result, the character of Flynn takes something of a backseat to the tale – that character is merely the instigator for the difficulties between Beverly and Florence. In fact, Flynn dies well before the end of the film. Therefore, this causes the movie to be thrown off balance; with a major star playing the role of Flynn, an audience might reasonably expect the character to have greater prominence throughout. It’s not until considerably after Flynn’s death that you realize the motion picture is supposed to be about the mother and daughter instead of the daughter and the movie star. Casting an actor of lesser notoriety in the role of Flynn might have helped somewhat here – but again, setting the expectations properly in the setup portion of the screenplay would’ve been best.

In discussing “The Last Of Robin Hood” after the screening (and really, shouldn’t it have been something like, “The Last Days Of Robin Hood”?), our instructor shared with us some production notes. In real life, Florence did collaborate on a book; it was titled “The Big Love” and was eventually turned into a stage play. The filmmakers read the book and reached out to Beverly about making her story into a motion picture; although by then she preferred to guard her privacy, she gave her consent to the film. However, she passed away in 2010 before the movie could be realized. This pictured played at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it was said to have been well received.

 The Last of Robin Hood (2013) on IMDb

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