Legendary swashbuckling movie hero Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline) is no longer the box office draw he once was. With his health deteriorating and the best years of his career behind him the middle-age Flynn refuses to slow down and continues to live the way he wants, which includes bedding young up and coming starlets.
However, when he meets fifteen-year-old aspiring singer/actress/dancer Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) he takes more than just a casual liking to her. Supported by her ambitious mother Florence (Susan Sarandon), Errol and Beverly begin a relationship, which the outcome becomes more tragic than any of the three had hoped.
“Damn!” That’s what I was thinking when I was watching The Last of Robin Hood. “Damn, damn, damn!”
Flynn was a movie star and icon. Even in his latter years with his faded celebrity and lecherous reputation continued to get him attention. It was probably not the attention he would have liked, becoming tabloid fodder and part of Hollywood gossip, but he surely wasn’t forgotten as he ventured into middle-age. If Flynn was around today he probably would have had a reality show. The title probably would have been ‘In Like Flynn’ – that phrase is just too good to not use.
In his final years he started a relationship with fifteen-year-old Beverly, which was helped along by her own mother. There’s certainly something very twisted with this scene. It’s pretty disturbing. This goes beyond Flynn being a Hollywood playboy. He’s risking not only his reputation and his career, but jail time. Something that he came close to a few years prior.
Then we have Florence who has given her approval for Flynn and her underage daughter to be with each other. The main reason is because she feels Flynn can help Beverly be a star. That’s quite a dangerous stance that could lead to second-guessing her decision. Not to mention the emotional damage that could be done to Beverly being part of this relationship.
There’s really a lot of meat in this story, but the film doesn’t really delve very much into any of it. For most of the runtime it just sits. It recounts the events of this story, but doesn’t mine the turmoil, guilt, conflicts or tragedy that begins to blanket these characters. We watch these three characters interact together, Flynn and Beverly talk, Florence is resistant at first than quickly succumbs to the allure of a connection to Flynn, then that’s pretty much it.
The drama and emotions this story has sitting there don’t get exploited in even a casual, brief way. It’s strange.
Even when it’s apparent Flynn’s assistance to Beverly’s career won’t be an asset, Florence doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t rethink that her daughter could be getting more hurt than helped. The risk of Flynn’s involvement with a minor, other than a brief scene from his lawyer, doesn’t come into play and add any drama. It doesn’t appear to have any impact at all.
There’s one scene of Flynn talking with director Stanley Kubrick about him and Beverly starring in his Lolita film, saying they are a ‘package deal’. Kubrick flatly refuses his offer. This looked like it could have been a jumping off point of Flynn realizing his career is threatened and the presence of Beverly is a detriment to him and he’s being judged in the eyes of others. In reality Flynn was not getting a lot of job offers towards the end of his life. But the movie doesn’t go there.
Flynn and Beverly casually roll through their scenes without any care. Plus, I never understood what made Flynn really fall for Beverly and what made her so special as opposed to any of the other conquests he had in his life. At the end when Flynn dies and there’s a media circus and a strain between Beverly and Florence I just didn’t care at that point. It was too late.
It’s an extremely bland film. I imagine the budget was low and it shows with some truly laughable back-screen projection in one scene and blatant stock footage that pops up. The film might stay close to the facts but it doesn’t dramatize this story in any kind of compelling way.
The best thing I can say about the movie is Kline. Fanning is forgettable, Sarandon is nothing special, but Kline is the highlight. For the longest time many fans felt he should play Flynn in a movie. Finally he does and he’s pretty good with the little he’s given here. But a movie about Flynn played by Kline, about this period in his life could have been so much more! It’s a shame that Kline finally got to play Flynn in such a disappointing film.
Damn, damn, damn!
This sounds as disappointing as that LOVELACE movie with Amanda Seyfried you reviewed awhile back. I love Kevin Kline and will watch him anything and indeed he seems like an ideal choice to play Flynn. Hell, he was the perfect Douglas Fairbanks in 1992's CHAPLIN starring Robert Downey Jr. so I can see this part being rather effortless for him. Too bad it sounds like a real disappointment; I did see Flynn's last film he made with Beverly called CUBAN REBEL GIRLS and it's just embarrassing and terrible…this sounds better by miles.
By the way, Hap, did you know that Flynn's co-star in eight movies, Olivia de Havilland, just turned 100 years old this past July? I plan on watching TO EACH HIS OWN, THE SNAKE PIT and THE HEIRESS pretty soon to celebrate as I love her to death (I'm a true GWTW fan all the way). Have you seen any of those three films?