Actor Bob Balaban's first forays into directing were PARENTS and MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK, bizarre and off-putting pieces of comic-horror juvenilia. A promising change of pace, THE LAST GOOD TIME is a reflective, lyrical tale about rediscovering love near the end of life.
Retired violinist Joseph Kopple (Armin Mueller-Stahl) dwells alone in a fastidiously neat urban flat. Widowed, sixtyish neighbor Ida (Maureen Stapleton) shyly tries to attract his attention, but Kopple sticks to a set routine of reading and conversations with his only friend, who is dying in the
hospital (veteran character actor Lionel Stander, in his final performance). During a domestic disturbance, Kopple's upstairs neighbors toss items out the window; Kopple retrieves a lost storage-locker key from the fire escape and hides it. Then Charlotte (Olivia d'Abo), a sexy, streetwise girl
seeking refuge from her abusive boyfriend, appears. Kopple takes her in, introduces her to great books and music, recalls his youthful, ill-fated marriage to a dancer, and reveals the $6,000 tax problem that endangers his secure home. Charlotte remains evasive about her underworld associates, who
threaten her and finally ransack Kopple's rooms over a mysterious missing object of great importance. At that point, Kopple reluctantly admits to concealing the storage-locker key. Charlotte angrily takes it and storms out, then later reappears and tenderly makes love to the old man. The next day
she departs for good, having traded the key for enough cash to pay Kopple's IRS debt. Spirit renewed, Kopple calls on Ida.
Balaban can be commended first for carving a plot out of Richard Bausch's vaporous, elegiac novel, and for keeping a lid on potential crime-thriller elements that might have taken over completely in the hands of a less-disciplined filmmaker. The mystery of the key and the valuable secret it guards
remain unspecified and are not really relevant anyway in a story line about intimacy, second chances, and repressed yearning. Mueller-Stahl plays a part similar to that of Anthony Hopkins in THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, a pleasant, civilized man whose perfectly-ordered existence masks an emotional
rigidity that has cost him dearly. D'Abo, often cast in routine decorative-blonde roles, shows impressive range as the shady waif, even if a dramatic high point still requires her to bare her voluptuous torso for a May-December sex scene. In outline, THE LAST GOOD TIME does seem more than a little
like male wish fulfillment (the aged Kopple gets a young honey before he's forced to settle for the matronly Ida), but heartfelt performances and direction raise the moment above the predictable commonplace.
Though the independent feature won top prize at the 1995 Hampton's Film Festival, its theatrical exposure was even briefer than that of PARENTS and MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK. (Profanity, sexual situations, adult situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: Actor Bob Balaban's first forays into directing were PARENTS and MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK, bizarre and off-putting pieces of comic-horror juvenilia. A promising change of pace, THE LAST GOOD TIME is a reflective, lyrical tale about rediscovering love near the e… (more)