Movie Review: The Last Word


1. A person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.
2. Psychoanalysis. a person who suffers from narcissism, deriving erotic gratification from admiration of his or her own physical or mental attributes.

Control Freak:
A person having a strong need for control over people or situations.

The two words above describe specific types of mental afflictions that unfortunately many people suffer from. As the new movie “The Last Word” points out very well, people who have these mental problems are hard to live with, work with and especially ever like.  The lead character in this film, Harriet, played by Shirley Maclaine, has both of these afflictions and even more that make her a very unlikeable person.  In an ultimate example of being a control freak, she even tries to control what is written in her own obituary even before she dies. Harriet’s obituary author, who Harriet also chooses herself works for a local paper and is played by Amanda Seyfried. What follows is the discovery that writing an obituary for a woman like this is close to impossible because just about everybody hates her, including even her own priest and her own daughter, played by Anne Heche. What this movie makes very obvious is that there is practically nothing more annoying than dealing with a person who is constantly condescending and never giving anyone any respect. A great example of this happens at the beginning of this film, as Harriet doesn’t even think that her own gardener can cut her hedges correctly or that her own maid can even cut a lemon correctly. This is bad enough when the person is perhaps some kind of a genius, but when this is a mental affliction, dealing with someone like this can be unbearable.

For this movie, I thought that the opportunity that was lost was not devoting enough of this film to explaining why Harriet is such a condescending and annoying control freak, but instead the story goes into different and sometimes strange twist and turns that are meant to be surprising or different but ultimately, for the most part, do not work. One example of this is when Harriet suddenly decides she wants to be a DJ for a location radio station or when she befriends a poor black child who is very outspoken at her school. Some of these story lines work for a while, but not for very long. One would think that these sub stories are Harriets attempts to perhaps build herself a better final obituary, but for the most part, none of this really works. At the explanation, there is a big attempt to explain why Harriet was the way she is, but that explanation also does not work, based on we have seen up to that point.

Trying to surprise the audience or going into unusual directions is ok sometimes but for this movie, it seemed too obvious that the writer and director were all about being different, rather than coming up with a good story that works for the whole two hours.

For these reasons, I cannot give a positive recommendation to The Last Word.

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