Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood'

Two and a half stars

There's something telling about "The Last of Robin Hood" being the first project to emerge from Lifetime Films. The sordid tale of Errol Flynn's last days clinching with a Lolita and soaking in booze and drugs, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's by-the-numbers account technically qualifies as a true crime tale, and seems to exist mostly because of its marketable prurience: a hallmark of Lifetime's infamous cable movies.

The palpable appeal of "The Last of Robin Hood" lies almost entirely in its casting. Kevin Kline stars as erstwhile star Flynn in his late-1950s decline, and Kline and Flynn prove a match made in Hollywood heaven. The film begins with Flynn's 1959 death, then flashes back to tell the story of how Kline met, aggressively wooed, and won the heart of fifteen-year-old aspiring actress Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning).

Fanning seemingly lacks the craft to convey why Aadland comes to love Flynn so much (a kind of Stockholm syndrome? Genuine admiration for his talents and accomplishments?), but to be fair, Glatzer and Westmoreland's script never gives this crucial point its due. And so our attentions more easily lie with uber-cad Flynn and Aadland's bone-deep stage mother Florence, played with great skill by Susan Sarandon.

What fun there is to be had in "The Last of Robin Hood," outside of the handsome period production design, comes from noting the subtleties of the lies Flynn tells and the lies Florence tells herself to believe she's a good person and not herself a desperate, selfish exploiter to equal Flynn. Kline brings a witty, comically smooth self-awareness to his portrayal of a washed-up star who knows he's being bad and, for the most part, doesn't care (and yet, in his darkest hours, self-loathing creeps in at the edges), while an equally keen Sarandon plays Florence as a woman who drives herself so relentlessly to avoid thinking about how she's selling out her own daughter at every turn.

Ultimately, "The Last of Robin Hood" is too dully straightforward to justify its own existence. The film screams for some insight into Beverly's psychology or a provocative discussion about the value of this February-December romance, but Glatzer and Westmoreland simply plod through "just the facts" and make their seasoned stars work overtime to bring any interest to the sodden dialogue and dull, repetitive incidents.

As a result, "The Last of Robin Hood" feels like a tabloid read in the supermarket aisle, with just as much depth, consideration and thoughtfulness on the part of the gossip peddlers as the gossip consumers. Worse, the flick makes one feel like a voyeur at the scene of a car wreck. Move along, folks: Nothing to see here.

Rated R for language. One hour, 34 minutes.

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