The Last of Robin Hood is the true story of Beverly Aadland, a teen starlet who became the last girlfriend of legendary swashbuckler Errol Flynn. In 1957, Beverly was working at Warner Brothers studios with a fake birth certificate saying she was 18 -- she was in fact, only 15 -- when she encountered the former matinée idol. After a bumpy start, the two undertook a relationship that was ultimately embraced by Beverly's Hollywood mother Florence, who became a willing third wheel. The affair took them from L.A. to New York to Africa, then to Cuba where Flynn pitched in with the rebels to make a pro-Castro propaganda movie starring Beverly. It all came crashing to an end in Vancouver, however, when Flynn died in Beverly's arms, causing an avalanche of publicity; Florence finally achieved the attention she sought in the form of tabloid notoriety but the chaos drove Beverly to the edge of sanity. The Last of Robin Hood is a poignant yet darkly comic coming-of-age tale about the desire for ... Written by
"In like Flynn," a colloquial expression based on the dissolute life of Errol Flynn.
Because Kevin Kline looks like an aging Errol Flynn (he died at 50), it's easy to believe Kline's depiction of the swashbuckling roué from early 20th Century American film in The Last of Robin Hood. Yet, if you want really to experience the bad boy who gave Robin life, read his autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways. Sadly this film is a dull, soporific take on the last years of Flynn.
Not that Kevin Kline doesn't have the ability to be roguish like Flynn, it's just that he appears to have been directed to underplay the famous rake, a letdown for those of us hoping to experience the wild wicked one. Instead, this Flynn is pursuing a much younger woman, Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), with a feeling of entitlement and an ennui-subtle sense of "been there."
More interesting than the moribund Flynn is Beverly's mom, Florence (Susan Sarandon) -- a stage mom if there ever was one. Her machinations to get her daughter into films are almost unbelievable. When she realizes her underage daughter is sleeping with Flynn, the other side of her ambition, the love of a mother, rings true as a contrast. However, she allows the affair. To their credit, Fanning and Kline seem to care about each other to the extent that any moral outrage about statutory rape is slightly mitigated.
Although the script doesn't allow for the dramatic energy that should accompany his shenanigans, brightening the dim movie is Sarandon's ambitious mom with dorky glasses and fatshe steals whatever show there is to take.
So if you want to witness the quiet decline of a glamorous pedophile, the coda to Flynn's checkered life is gently carried out by Kevin Kline as if in hospice. It's the last of an outrageous actor. R.I.P.
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