* (out of four)
All swash and no buckle, “The Last of Robin Hood” has not one clearly defined character or relationship. That’s a problem in any movie, but it’s especially troubling when chronicling a real-life union between a movie star in his late 40s and a 15-year-old girl.
I know perceptions about those things were different in the late 1950s, but still.
If you don’t know anything about Errol Flynn, the Australian actor most remembered for starring in 1938’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” you still won’t after seeing “The Last of Robin Hood.” The movie focuses only on the final years of his life, when Errol (Kevin Kline, never disappearing into the role or deciding on an accent) spots aspiring actress Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), sends for her and soon takes her virginity in a scene that can’t really be called consensual. Beverly’s upset about what happens. Then, suddenly, she’s un-traumatized and Errol’s in love, the movie never depicting why this supposed playboy has chosen this very young girl, who isn’t presented with much happening in the personality department.
Periodically, incompetent writers/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland switch to the end of 1959. Errol has passed away and Beverly’s mom Florence (Susan Sarandon), whom Errol played for a fool, is interviewed for a book. Why does this shadily take place without Beverly? Just like that, Florence goes from supportive, naïve mother to deceiving opportunist while the movie fails to create much conflict.
Passing references are made to rumors of the star’s lothario past, and there’s a sense Glatzer and Westmoreland want to separate tabloid headlines from reality. That would be admirable. What’s not is a painful drama that seems like it’s obscuring the truth, winking at sleaze while presenting Flynn’s behavior as charming. The shamefully un-controversial movie ends by noting its subject was one of Hollywood’s most controversial figures.
Meanwhile, Sarandon doesn’t come close to selling her character’s indifference to her husband’s warning: “Errol Flynn’s a walking penis.” Fanning’s only 20, but is far too old to pass for 15. “The Last of Robin Hood” marks her fourth bad movie in the last calendar year (“The Motel Life,” “Night Moves,” “Very Good Girls”), tying her with Saoirse Ronan’s achievement in 2013 (“Violet and Daisy,” “Byzantium,” “The Host,” “How I Live Now”). Then Ronan came back with the great “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Ms. Fanning, call Wes Anderson now.
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