Gire: Conventional 'Robin Hood' misses the sensational boat

<b>Mini-review: 'The Last of Robin Hood'</b>

The most interesting piece of trivia to come out of this bio-drama is that Hollywood star Errol Flynn could have played Humbert Humbert in Stanley Kubrick's classic "Lolita." But when Flynn insisted that his real-life teenage lover, Beverly Aadland, play the title character, the role went to James Mason.

This telling scene is about as good as it gets in "The Last of Robin Hood," a relentlessly conventional tale of a sensational sex scandal as only Lifetime Films can sell it.

Kevin Kline drops into the aging matinee idol with ease and aplomb, giving Flynn an aristocratic sense of entitlement as he chases after a new girl on the studio block, a fetching blonde named Beverly (a grown-up Dakota Fanning).

"Robin Hood" is as much about Beverly's ruthlessly enabling, social-climbing mother Florence as it is about the not-so-secret Flynn/Beverly affair. (She is 15 when Flynn practically rapes her on a couch.)

Susan Sarandon brings surprising empathy to her single-minded Florence, a former showgirl who enjoys living vicariously through her daughter's increasingly dangerous affair with the four-time divorced star who died at 50 of a heart attack in 1950, the beginning of the story.

Flashbacks, narrated by Florence to a writer (Jason Davis), whisk us back three years earlier for us to see how Florence - as her husband puts it - "serves up" Beverly to Flynn, a notorious ladies' man already in trouble for his libido.

Flynn's addictions to morphine and cocaine are hinted at in a quick shot to his thigh. Writers/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland wanted to be objective about their subjects by presenting the facts and letting us reach our own conclusions.

This is a journalistically admirable approach, but a dramatically dulling one in a movie that screams for a moral, ethical and parental perspective. Instead, we get exactly the movie that Lifetime Films are famous for, notwithstanding the appropriate restricted R rating.

"The Last of Robin Hood" opens at the Century Centre, Chicago, and the Evanston CineArts 6 and the Lincolnshire 20. Rated R for language, sexual situations. 90 minutes. β˜… β˜…

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