The Last of Robin Hood

Directed By: Richard Glatzer

Starring: Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Kane, Max Casella, and Patrick St. Esprit

Biographical dramas are sometimes tricky beasts.  If the individual is particularly well known, directors must convince moviegoers that their vision is historically accurate.  The key is to have an actor who looks, walks, and talks like the main character.  Some of this is dependent upon the costume and make-up crew members on deck, but the bulk of this is dependent upon the actor(s) cast in a particular role.  Prominent examples of films that have successfully pulled off this challenging act in recent years are Ray, Lincoln, and to a lesser extent Hitchcock.  This weekend, another director steps up to the plate.  Moreover, Richard Glatzer is on a mission to bring actor Errol Flynn's sordid tale back to life on the big screen in The Last of Robin Hood.

Having ended her dance career to marry her husband Herb Aadland (Patrick St. Esprit), Florence (Susan Sarandon) has invested her energy in making her daughter Beverly (Dakota Fanning) a star.  Though Beverly is only 15 years old, Florence has carefully groomed her girl so that she looks old enough to pass in auditions as an actress, singer, or dancer.  This works until Beverly happens to come across famous leading man Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline), a party animal notorious for his taste in younger women.  Flynn invites Beverly to his home for a drink, things get steamy, and one of the most infamous relationships in Hollywood history commences.  The film chronicles the media whirlwind of Flynn's death at age 50 and his final years with his "wood nymph" Beverly leading up to this.

Casting is critical in biographical films, especially when making a film about a star as beloved as Errol Flynn was.  That being said, I have to give Glatzer credit for getting Kevin Kline to star as Flynn in The Last of Robin Hood.  Kline is able to bring the larger-than-life presence of this Old Hollywood movie star back to the big screen.  Kline moves like Flynn.  He walks like Flynn.  He talks like Flynn.  Kline does an impressive job in this role.  For the other prominent roles as Florence and Beverly Aadland, casting choices lead to a mixed bag of performances.  As the relatively unknown Florence, Susan Sarandon gives a solid performance that masks the melancholic spirit of this mother living through her daughter vicariously.  She makes America's most delinquent mom of the era quite entertaining. For her part as Beverly, however, Dakota Fanning is a bit stiff.  As she tries to make the transition from a child star to an adult star, it's critical for her to give  a convincing, emotive performance, and she just doesn't do it.  It especially shows in her on-screen chemistry with Kline.

Glatzer does a solid job of bringing this period piece to life with grainy, somewhat pale cinematography, a score emblematic of the 1950s, and some decent costumes.  There are some moments when he drops the ball.  For instance, he uses clips of 1950s New York rather than trying to build a set to capture this.  The footage is of a different quality than the rest of the film and it's definitely noticeable.  The film is also a bit too slow at times.  Aside from these few hiccups, he does a decent job of capturing the era and weaving a theme of alcoholism into the film.

The Last of Robin Hood is a decent film.  It really is.  It's just not anything special, and that's a shame.  Despite great casting of its star, it just doesn't stand out from the pack.  The Last of Robin Hood gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Chardonnay with this one.