The story takes place in the late 50s and tells the story of Beverly Aadland (Fanning), a teenage girl working in Hollywood with a fake birth certificate when she meets the famous Errol Flynn (Kline), a movie legend and the star of “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, one of the most famous action films in history.
Flynn, already known for his sexual adventures within the Warner Studios, doesn’t take long to seduce the girl and they have an affair, although nobody seem to bother that he is almost 40 at the time. Knowing that this could bury his career, he starts to lure her mother Florence (Sarandon), a failed wannabee artist who believes that Flynn could be her daughter’s path to stardom. Her dream is ruined when Flynn dies shortly after due to his substance abuse, leaving the two women to deal with the consequences.
It may seem that I have spoiled the ending but Flyyn’s death is the opening scene of this film. We are seeing the famous swashbuckler die before we even manage to see how the lovers have first met. While this is not an initial problem in terms of narrative, it is a trick that only works if it is a catalyst for a change in the characters or the end of the second act. Unfortunately, this is the start of many mistakes in terms of pacing and story development that makes the film feel flat.
The film doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at many points. Florence ends up as a divorcee because she follows her daughter and Flynn’s adventure but no further development is taken here. The husband is gone in one scene and nobody knows how Florence is feeling. The same happens with Beverly, who should be constantly worried about Flynn’s escapades, the alcohol and drug abuse; but in this case, she just seems to enjoy the life she made for herself and avoid her mother at all costs.
Two things are difficult to understand: one is the choice of pacing and time restrictions and the second is the editing. A film that is 90 minutes long has plenty of opportunities to show the conflict between mother and daughter and how Flynn misbehaves. It would have been interesting to see escalations of all sorts on screen but there is no conflict therefore there is no resolution for the characters. It is possible that the writers were too strict in terms of following the source material, but the drama could have been much less bland.
And it is not specifically because of the acting. Kevin Kline was born to play Errol Flynn. Sarandon and Dakota Fanning deliver great performances too, Sarandon making it look as easy as falling off a log. Fanning is very impressive.
The Last of Robin Hood wastes so much potential that it almost feels bad writing this piece as a lost promise, but it could have been more filled with drama and conflict between the three characters. While the premise is great (and based on a true story), the execution falls flat in spite of the performances. Whilst it is a good portrait of the time period, it is difficult to recommend without reservations. It is only recommended if you are fans of any of the leads. If you are looking for an entertaining film, look elsewhere.
Review by Fabiano Fonseca
The Last of Robin Hood is out now on DVD.