Shared from the 2017-03-24 Chattanooga eEdition


Shirley MacLaine gets ‘The Last Word’

Th e fe i s ty S h i rl ey MacLaine has lived her life and spoken her mind on her own terms. That makes her the perfect casting to play Harriet Lauler, a retired take-charge businesswoman in “The Last Word.” This is one of those occasions where fact and fiction blur into a thing of creative beauty.

It’s good it did because MacLaine is the only reason to tout this movie.

The latest offering from the Oscar-winning actress has her playing a strongwilled woman who ran her marriage and company with an iron fist. That was necessary because she grew up in a time when women weren’t encouraged to do much more than stay at home.

Now, in the final years of her life, Harriet begins to worry about her legacy. She decides to contact Anne (Amanda Seyfried), the obituary writer for the local newspaper. Harriet wants to make sure the final words written about her are respectful of the life she’s lived.

Th e 82 -ye a r -yo u n g MacLaine brings a spunky energy and just enough caustic tone to the character to make her both someone to fear and someone to love. The key to this is that MacLaine, even when her character begins to change, plays the role with the same power and force.

Un fo r t u n ate ly, t h e script by Stuart Ross Fink is full of story plot holes.

What ends up being the only strength of the script is the examination of one’s life story. Decisions made throughout the years all come together to make the person who will be remembered when they are gone. The only question is whether they will be remembered fondly or in fear.

One day, there will be the time to look back at MacLaine’s career and this film will help recall her work fondly even in a movie that has so many writing problems.

‘The Last Word’ 2 out of 4 stars Rated R (language)

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