The cool and natural chemistry between leads Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried is the main reason to see “The Last Word,” a female-centric buddy dramedy about creating your own meaningful legacy late in life. The two actors make a fantastic onscreen duo and they keep the contrived story enjoyable (or at least interesting).
MacLaine is Harriet, an overbearing, controlling, and generally unlikable woman facing the end of her life. When she realizes that she hasn’t exactly created a proud or newsworthy legacy, she enlists the help of young obituary writer Anne (Seyfried) to pen hers prematurely. In an attempt to make her own last-minute story relevant before she kicks the bucket, Harriet starts by finding a young “at risk” youth (AnnJewel Lee Dixon) to mentor.
Maclaine is fantastic as Harriet, and she sells the role with perfect, scowl-faced believability. Seyfried holds her own with another strong performance as a young woman who needs a good kick in the pants to awaken the ambition to live up to her full potential.
This feel-good indie movie is packed with genuine laughs, tear-jerking sentimentality, and bouts of mushy melodrama. While the story overall may be quite forced in its conventionality (you’ll see everything coming from a mile away), it doesn’t make it any less satisfying. Of course the nasty old hag finds her inner humanity by the end of the story, of course she touches and changes everyone’s lives for the better, and of course everything is wrapped up in an overly sentimental little bow, but no matter. Although the movie doesn’t exactly have much of an original voice, it still has a very big heart.
Shirley has done it again. She is one of the best actresses of her time. The younger actresses were not playing interns in this movie. They held their own.