UNDRESSED AND UNDONE Kevin Kline carries on with Dakota Fanning in
'The Last of Robin Hood' before meeting his demise.
Ronald Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's
The Last of Robin Hood is an enjoyable specimen of the low-budget Hollywood biopic. It begins with the death of Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline), who went out before his last scandal began. He had been carrying on with a minor, Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), a 15-year-old posing as a 20-year-old.
Beverly had been a chorus girl on an unnamed studio lot, here set up for a supposed audition, which turned into a night of pink Champagne and a quick, harsh loss of virginity on the proverbial casting couch. The twenty-ish Dakota Fanning looks pearl-pink, wearing what you could call a blonde Bettie Page cut, and her cool, lazy half-smile softens the movie's rough patches. As Beverly, she assumes she's been used and dropped by the fading star, but he returns to declare his love and to make amends.
The open question in The Last of Robin Hood is how much Beverly's mother connived in the affair. Florence Aadland was a stage mother, a dancer whose career ended after a drunken auto accident. Played by Susan Sarandon, her big eyes magnified by cat's-eye specs, Florence comes across as a shrewd if only half-bright person who wanted her daughter to hit the big-time but hadn't thought through the possible consequences.
Those old enough to be entertained by Errol Flynn in a swashbuckler may feel Kline, showing a glimmer of the real Flynn, honors the memory. He arranges himself like an old-time star, favoring his profile, sitting with the sunlight behind him, restraining his wattles with an ascot.
The film, however, is straightjacketed by copyrights and a low budget. Turns out that Flynn's work can't be discussed except in terms of the public-domain hero of Sherwood Forrest, so in the end this Robin Hood feels as though it's stitched together with tabloid front pages and overnarration.
'The Last of Robin Hood' opens at Summerfield Cinemas Sept. 5.
551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.522.0719.