2006-01-25 / Book Review

Gazette on film

a movie review by Rose A. Whitney

a movie review
by Rose A. Whitney

Although the plot is contrived and predictable at times, “Last Holiday” is an upbeat fun-filled adventure with a message. According to film history, this is actually the story’s third incarnation, since a 1950 American version starring Alec Guinness and a 1996 Russian version preceded it.

Once again, Queen Latifah graces the silver screen with her charm and style. She plays Georgia Byrd, a 30-something, shy, conservative sales associate for a large department store in Louisiana. Besides work, her life revolves around choir singing, clipping coupons, gourmet cooking and maintaining her scrapbook of “possibilities” which contains her secret wishes and aspirations such as meeting Chef Didier ( Gerard Depardieu), an internationally renowned cook, foreign travel, and eventually getting married. One of her special wishes is to form a relationship with a co-worker, Sean Matthews (LL Cool J), but she is too shy and lacking in self-confidence to act upon her feelings. Rather than enjoying the pleasures of everyday life ( she prefers to eat Lean Cuisine dinners and gives her gourmet food creations to a neighbor’s child), she routinely deprives herself and put her dreams on hold.

After an accident results in a minor head injury, Georgia is given a CAT Scan which reveals that she suffers from a rare terminal brain condition and has approximately three weeks to live. When she learns this devastating news, Georgia is determined to turn her “possibilities” into “realities”. She cashes in her investments and life savings, flies to a city near Prague and checks into the Grand Hotel Pupp, a four-star resort. A self-indulgent whirlwind round of exotic facials, massages, algae body wraps and couture shopping follows. Georgia's craving for new experiences and adventure also leads her to try extreme sports such as snow boarding and sky diving and provides some especially entertaining moments for the viewer.

At the same time that Georgia is living her life to the fullest, a complicated subplot involving the presence at the hotel of the department store CEO, Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton) and two Louisiana politicians. Georgia's identity is a mystery and concern for them and their interaction with her results in an ongoing series of humorous moments.

Most important, Georgia Byrd offers many meaningful life lessons to those she touches. Her future happiness is finally assured with some revelations regarding her medical condition.

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