Sunday, February 11, 2007

Last Holiday

2006, US, directed by Wayne Wang

It's hardly a neglected classic, but I can't help thinking that Last Holiday didn't get its due either critically or commercially. The plot is so simple that you can guess the outcome before the film is ten minutes old, but that's really beside the point in a film which happily conforms to the necessary genre conventions and has its fun within the lines. Inside a Hollywood wish-fulfillment fantasy, there's some gentle but sustained commentary on the American political system (when a senator and a congressman see three people in one place, they immediately think they need to conform), as well as the healthcare industry, where the only rational response to the insanity of insurance companies seems to be to throw in the towel and enjoy the last few weeks while you can, which is exactly what Georgia (Queen Latifah) does when she gets a devastating diagnosis. Latifah is a tremendously charismatic presence who gets great mileage out of her character's transformation, but director Wayne Wang also gives room to the supporting characters and he has an unpatronising view of the less-well-off that shines through even in work like this.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States