Jan 222006

Last Holiday (2006)

After she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness, a shy woman decides to take a European vacation.

Directed by
Wayne Wang

Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito, Alicia Witt, G?rard Depardieu, Jane Adams, Michael Estime, Susan Kellerman, Jascha Washington, Matt Ross, Ranjit Chowdhry, Michael Nouri, Jaqueline Fleming, Kendall Mosby

The film is a remake of a 1950 Alec Guinness comedy. “Last Holiday” is a simplistic fairy tale comedy that is meant for mass appeal. It is a bit predictable, and the characters are fairly black and white (good and bad).

That’s not to say “Holiday” is an absolute waste of time. The film is presented as a life-affirming fantasy, and it plays well into that pocket. Beautifully photographed by Geoffrey Simpson, the film shimmers with golds and whites, setting a luminous backdrop to Georgia’s final hurrah. To counteract the visual brightness, the director manages to get Latifah to settle down, begging her to can her traditionally brassy personality for at least one movie. She brings a lot class and believability to the film.

Many in the cast are asked to play against type (LL Cool J as a meek, lovestruck guy?), but Latifah registers the strongest, allowing an unusual level of charm to come out of herself. She’s great with the film’s more restrained moments, including the awestruck soaking in of her sumptuous surroundings, and Georgia’s interaction with the smitten hotel chef, played with expected (and welcome) invention by Gerard Depardieu. Wang is good with the smaller moments, dealing out some unexpected emotional truth to balance with the broader material, and these sections of the film keep “Holiday” from losing itself completely in the quicksand of audience-pleasing film-making.

Gets a thumbs up from me and one down from Lay.

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