Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Last of Robin Hood (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Last of Robin Hood

The directing duo of Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer (The Fluffer, Quinceañera ) have a definite compelling swashbuckler on their hands with wonderful production design, yet the handling is just a little too fluffy.

"The Last of Robin Hood" stars a verbally agile Kevin Kline as the great, egotistical star with the rapier mustache, Errol Flynn.

Flynn is, if not at his twilight era, definitely seasoned in years here at 1958. The libertine actor has fallen in love with a presumed 18 year old jejune girl with Kim Novak cat eyes, one Beverly Aadland ( Dakota Fanning).

Flynn spies the girl from afar on the studio lot and gets her to audition for a play. He is instantly smitten. Dinner and some libidinous poking follow.

Alas, Whatever Errol wants, Errol gets.

Beverly is shaken up, then begins to enjoy the attention.

Beverly's scattered yet obsessive mother (Susan Sarandon) encourages the affair.

Abruptly, the girl rebuffs and aloofly taunts the dashing if aging man. Flynn becomes incensed and driven in amorous conquest.

Kevin Kline is authentic, jittery, dilapidated and dashing as Flynn. And, he has the right tone and repartee with the best lines. The slickness of the film moves a bit too fast and gives this amorally compelling figure more speed than space and more glancing parry instead of sharp poignance.

We seem to see only a shade of Flynn, at times air fencing and doing spins. If only there was more glue to his ghost.

The production values are spectacular. The cinematography is facile with its fluid camera that moves in sweeping arcs reminiscent of the film "Hitchcock". There are shimmering champagne dresses, cream colored cars, brown sweaters, fresh faced  high school kids and swishing skirts swirled in the laughter of lipstick, scotch and cigarettes.

Dakota Fanning is satisfactory even though she feels slight and a bit blank with not much emotional range. She invariably fixes the screen with a large eyed feline "come hither" pout.

Susan Sarandon is fine here too, but her voice-over interspersed throughout, goes over heavy and makes some tension seem like an hour TV movie. At one point, when she throws rocks at the window saying "I'll get you, you punks!" , it feels like a serialized melodrama without much gusto.

Still, Kline saves the day. He is complete in this role, despite having only a peppering of earthy entrances with depth to his part, aside from being the arrogant Casanova.

One interesting element is the aspect of Errol Flynn as Humbert Humbert, chasing his Lolita from the  reaches of Africa, to the sunlit surf of Cuba. Flynn risked all to remain virile, beyond the law, and on top of fame, but his unrestrained lust for teenage girls became a Faustian bargain, abruptly rescinded. It  seems Kubrick did not know what to make of an overzealous and leathery Flynn or for that matter his vacuous, kewpie doll love.

"The Last of Robin Hood" is deeply evocative of its period, but the all too rolling swiftness treats all drama with a sugary coloring book fizz. Kline pops in with verve and bravado, but at last, the distinctive  and looping curl on his lip that turns a questioning dare into a smile, looks like a Sharpie Ultrafine marker rather than a genuine detail of a life once lived in a black bottom pool

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