Hello Everyone, Janet W. here…
At the end of her highly accomplished life journey, Harriet Lauler (Shirley MacLaine) searches for something to do in The Last Word. A wanderer in the land of denial about her clear case of OCD, Harriet makes her hairdresser watch as she cleans up the haircut she just received. Suddenly, some spilled wine and a newspaper and light dawns on Harriet’s dome…she would orchestrate her obituary. Anne Sherman (Amanda Seyfried), an obit writer for the local newspaper, is content in mediocrity though she dreams of more. The wackiness and heartfelt joy that follows is the epitome of a female buddy film.
Ok, who can say that MacLaine is not amazing? Some of my favorite roles of hers took place in truly iconic films like Steel Magnolias (“I’m not crazy, M’Lynn. I’ve just been in a very bad mood 40 years!” Classic), Terms of Endearment, and Madame Sousatzka. No fear and strength beyond measure is what MacLaine’s work has come to mean to me. In The Last Word, she does not disappoint. Harriet may be a prickly pear of a woman, but her honesty and wisdom could be the catalyst that launches you into your next level of growth. If you need a shove to get going a project, she is the one to see.
Seyfried continues to show solid performances one after another. My favorite is definitely her portrayal of Sylvia Weis in In Time, but Sophie in Letters to Juliet was good in a different way. I hope she pushes into more types of roles though (love interest or lovelorn roles get old), because she has potential. A new treasure is born in AnnJewel Lee Dixon (though I didn’t care for all of the cussing). She is vibrant, steady, and adorable as Brenda. She can only go up. I was pleasantly to see some of my childhood actors pop up in The Last Word. We all will remember the gardener (Gedde Watanabe), Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles, and Joe Mueller (Joel Murray) the ad exec, George Calamari from One Crazy Summer. Though their cameos are brief, they are highly enjoyable performances that said a lot without much dialogue.
The music of The Last Word is truly inspired. It grooves, provokes thought, drives the narrative, and is a setup for a good time. From a cinematic technique focus, I really enjoyed the use the of point of view unsteady cam to put us in the mind of a person taking the plunge to be more. In addition, the class long strut shot of the trio on a mission was on point. Well done, Mark Pellington, the director. This film is chock full of wisdom rich one-liners like “Are you willing to take a risk for something stupid or something great?” and “You don’t make a mistake, mistakes make you.” I highly recommend watching The Last Word. It is a funny, smart, motivating, and endearing endless fountain of wisdom and kicks to the butt for all. Oscar worthy performance by MacLaine.
A GOOD KICK IN THE BUTT!
Janet L. White
Your friendly straightforward neighborhood critic