Mr Morgan’s Last Love (GFF 2014)

Mr Morgans Last LoveMatthew Morgan (Michael Caine), a philosophy professor originally from Princeton who moved to Paris with his wife (Jane Alexander) before she died, is struggling to cope with his loss. He doesn’t speak any French, instead tutoring a friend in English at weekly sessions at a nearby café. He appears to find a new lease of life, however, when he meets Pauline (Clémence Poésy), a local dance instructor who offers to take him home after a fall. He’s estranged from his own children, while she has always lacked a father figure, and they become quick friends. When Karen (Gillian Anderson) and Miles (Justin Kirk) arrive in Paris following their father’s botched suicide attempt, however, strain is put on Matthew and Pauline’s relationship as questions are asked about each of their true motivations.

When attending a film festival such as Glasgow and faced with more films than you could ever hope to see in the space of ten days, there are generally two methods of narrowing down your selection: you can make your choice based on the movies with the most buzz and risk missing out on something new and exciting, or you can base your decisions on a film’s cast and risk being let down by an actor or actress with an otherwise consistent track record. I went down the second avenue with Mr Morgan’s Last Love, and with a cast including Caine, Anderson, Poésy (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; In Bruges) and Kirk (TV’s Weeds) it was difficult to imagine how Mr Morgan’s Last Love could be anything other than at least watchable.

Directed by Sandra Nettelbeck — who also adapted Francoise Dorner’s original novel, La Douceur Assassine — Mr Morgan’s Last Love really is a mess of a movie. Why anyone would hire Caine only to have him attempt an American accent is beyond comprehension, even more so as it becomes clearer and clearer that it is a feat of which the actor is completely incapable. Poésy’s American accent is much, much better, which is itself distracting because she’s supposed to be French. The inflections aren’t all that fails to convince, however, as everything from their initial meeting (on a Parisian bus, by accident at first but then by design) to their ongoing friendship (he is clearly stalking her throughout) lacks the ring of truth.

The structure, too, is cause for concern, as it’s never entirely clear how much time has elapsed between scenes. Almost every allusion to time is jarring, as the script casually informs viewers that weeks or months have passed despite little evidence of it on screen — there’s little sign, for example, that Mr Morgan’s dancing has improved at all. It’s only with the arrival of Anderson and Kirk that the film seems to gather any momentum, though this proves short-lived as Anderson departs almost as soon as she has arrives, taking her wry asides with her, leaving the film to slow once more to a crawl. Things continue as before, only this time with Kirk shoehorned into an already strained partnership. As the action is split between Paris and the Morgans’ summer home, with characters whizzing back and forth willy nilly, the film finally falls apart completely.

While the novel may have had more room to establish the relationships and reflect on the themes of love and loss, Nettlebeck’s film struggles even to sell the set-up, even with nearly two hours at her disposal. Poésy is believable enough as a dance instructor, and Caine (at least normal, Cockney Caine) should have been more than able to do the role of philosophy teacher in his sleep, but together they are nothing but contrived. Mr Morgan’s Last Love is tedious, plodding and awkward, and it’s now painstakingly clear why it was preceded by so little buzz.

1.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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