By William Wolf


The image of Errol Flynn in his old movies is still with us, so that it is a challenge for anyone to try to play him. Yet in “The Last of Robin Hood,” shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, Kevin Kline gives an amazing performance as the late star. He masterly blends the persona we know from the screen with the character persona revealed in the film, so that Flynn emerges as a dimensional being, not a caricature.

The film written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, deals with the controversial relationship that Flynn had with Beverly Aadland, who at the age of 17 held him in her arms when he died of a heart attack at the age of only 50 in 1959. It is a story of forbidden love. Flynn had met her when she was 15, and as the film tells it, a genuine emotional and loving attraction developed between them.

Susan Sarandon gives a strong performance as Beverly’s mother, Florence, who, frustrated in her own ambitions to become a star, facilitated her daughter’s relationship with Flynn despite her being under age. It was an affair ripe for scandal, given Flynn’s reputation.

As portrayed here, Flynn is genuinely smitten with Beverly, and she with him. All of his enjoyment at high living and heavy drinking is part of the equation, and Kline makes us feel Flynn’s desperation about his declining career.

The film also picks up the ambience of Hollywood movie life, with the color and the competitiveness that existed under the studio system that was fading. Dakota Fanning gives an excellent sympathetic and appealing performance as Aadland with the right combination of sex, sincerity and independence in the face of what anybody night think.

But mainly, this is Kline’s film with a memorable performance added to other examples of his striking ability. Reviewed October 29, 2013.


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