This remarkably (and at times perhaps inappropriately) restrained biopic about the final two years of the life of Errol Flynn, and of his final relationship with underaged Beverly Aadland, gets a release in time for Christmas courtesy of Metrodome.
Teenage Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) is a chorus line girl rehearsing for a new Hollywood musical when she’s spotted by Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline) and invited ‘back to his place’. Approaching fifty, and already infamous for his penchant for girls far younger than himself, Flynn soon finds himself hopelessly smitten with Aadland, pursuing and seducing her with intentions of helping her in her movie career.
These intentions do not go unnoticed by Beverly’s scheming, one-legged, horn-rimmed spectacle-wearing mother Florence(Susan Sarandon). A willing collaborator in Beverly’s organised rise to fame, Florence agrees to accompany Flynn and Beverly on their trips to New York and elsewhere as ‘chaperone’. Florence’s husband leaves her in disgust, and when Flynn’s driver recognises Beverly as having attended his school and informs Flynn that she can’t be any older than fifteen, it just adds to Flynn’s problems of fading popularity and ailing health from a life of excess.
Told in flashback, THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD is a reasonable stab at a non-judgemental, sympathetic look at the Hollywood star’s final years. Unfortunately, a bit of extra bite is just what this movie needed to elevate it above the status of an average TV Movie of the Week. There’s a fine, glossy feel to the picture, with everything shot in bright pastel colours. However, while watching it you cannot help but feel that the subject of an underage affair with a girl with a domineering mother whose own dreams of stardom were dashed when she had to have her leg off really deserves a more lurid, and perhaps lunatic, approach. One wonders what John Waters might have made of it all.
The casting is pretty good. Susan Sarandon (in a role one wishes Divine had been alive to play) manages to strike a fine balance between concerned mother and ruthlessly opportunistic hag, with the latter eventually winning out. Kevin Kline does a good job of being womanising, boozing, drug-taking Errol Flynn and still making him the extremely likeable kind of chap he obviously must have been. The only bum note is Dakota Fanning, pale and uninteresting, who looks in need of a good meal and perhaps a blood transfusion, or even some of the pep pills Flynn must have been consuming by the barrel-load at that time.
Metrodome’s DVD contains no extras. LAST OF ROBIN HOOD is by no means a bad film, and if you’ve any interest at all in the Hollywood of this period, or if you’re fan of any of the three main stars, you’ll definitely want to give it a watch. Everyone else hopefully knows by now whether or not they need to catch up with it.
THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD is out on Region 2 DVD from Metrodome from 14th December 2015