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Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a tediously well-intentioned film on a scandal

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Dakota Fanning plays about five years younger than she is in "The Last of Robin Hood." Credit: Quantrell Colbert Dakota Fanning plays about five years younger than she is in "The Last of Robin Hood."
Credit: Quantrell Colbert

‘The Last of Robin Hood’
Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland
Stars: Dakota Fanning, Kevin Kline
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

The story of how a 50-something Errol Flynn wooed and nearly married young teen Beverly Aadland, whom he met when she was 15, is an easy tale to sensationalize. That’s what the press (and some of those involved, via tell-all memoirs) did when the story got out. The docudrama “The Last of Robin Hood” does not sensationalize. It’s not sympathetic but it is empathetic about what led Flynn (Kevin Kline) to always seek youth, especially as he boozed himself into an early grave; what led Aadland (Dakota Fanning) to seek fame through what looked to outsiders like a skeezy relationship; and what led her mother (Susan Sarandon) to hesitantly allow this to happen, because it might further her career.

But a lack of sensationalism is all “The Last of Robin Hood” has going for it — that and performances. All three leads hold back. Fanning’s performance has the cold interiority of most of her young adult performances (although she’s so remote she could never make it as a 1950s Hollywood star). Kline’s Flynn is a pathetic, decaying horndog, touchingly using the last of his limited energy to always be “on.” And Sarandon makes her character’s action almost make sense. You can see her rationalizing allowing her underaged daughter into the bed of a geriatric, even as she knows it’s not right.

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But everything else about is stiffly, lamely well-intentioned. It starts out trying to empathize its three characters and then does it, but nothing else. It has the look and feel (it not the performances) of an old TV movie — it’s one scene after another in a handful of rooms, plodding towards a foregone conclusion. When its gets there, it’s not the kind of impressive feat you applaud; it’s one you wearily accept because you knew it was going there all along. As accepting it is of life’s scandalized roadkill, it’s itself more or less lifeless. One can only watch it with thumbs twiddling.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
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