‘The Last Good Time’ (NR)By Kevin McManus
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 05, 1995
"THE LAST Good Time" concerns a couple of eventful weeks in the life of a sad, dignified, old gentleman. There's nothing fusty about the movie, though. It's a smart, provocative piece of work.
Joseph Kopple (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a 65-year-old retired violinist, lives in his own studio apartment. But his faculties are starting to slip: Each night he itemizes his outfit for the next day, right down to the necktie. And somehow he's made a tax-return error that may end up costing him his $6,000 life savings.
Enter Charlotte (Olivia d'Abo), a feckless young beauty who can't shake loose of her abusive boyfriend Eddie (Adrian Pasdar). Eddie, a tenant in Joseph's shabby Brooklyn building, abruptly moves out after a fight, leaving Charlotte homeless. Joseph, taking pity, lets her sleep on his floor for one night, then two. When Charlotte returns a third time, bruised and bleeding after a session with Eddie, Joseph treats her wounds.
The heart of the film is the friendship that grows between the young woman and the old man. Taciturn Joseph opens up a bit, expressing his sorrow over losing a son and telling how much he misses his deceased wife. Charlotte tries to explain her terrible attraction to Eddie, who hoped to be a musician but ended up a petty thief.
Joseph and Charlotte never connect intellectually, and he never grows sufficiently comfortable around her to drop his guard. But his tender treatment of her stands in stark contrast to Eddie's punches. Charlotte senses Joseph would like to be seduced, and she acts on that intuition. Writers Bob Balaban (who also directed) and John McLaughlin don't explore the possibilities of a full-fledged May-December romance, however. Sex and romance are ancillary here, at best. Mostly the movie is about dignity—about a man who remains noble despite the humiliations and constraints of old age.
Maureen Stapleton, prominently featured in the ads for this film, has a small role in a subplot that goes nowhere. But a second supporting character, Howard (Lionel Stander, in his last screen performance), is amusing as Joseph's profanely acerbic buddy. Howard, marveling at the fact that a young woman slept in Joseph's place, asks how old she is. Twenty-two, Joseph says.
"Twenty-two!" exclaims Howard, who is 89. "I got 22-year-old pants."
THE LAST GOOD TIME (Unrated) — Contains much profanity, brief female frontal nudity and one minimally explicit sex scene.
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