- Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn in The Last Of Robin Hood
The Last Of Robin Hood tells the story of Flynn’s final female conquest, Beverly Aandland (Dakota Fanning), an aspiring actress, singer, and dancer whom Flynn met on a set in 1957. The birth certificate Aandland gave to the studio said she was 18, while in reality she was only 15. But as her mother Florence (Susan Sarandon) says, "She can play 20."
Flynn is played by Kevin Kline, whose performance is the highlight of the film. Kline is one of the few people to ever win an acting Academy Award for a comedy, 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda, and once played Douglas Fairbanks opposite Robert Downey Jr. In Chaplin. He transcends imitation to bring out the deep sadness in the aging star trying to the party going even as his health fails.
Flynn starts the affair by summoning Beverly to his dressing room to “audition” for a part in a Broadway play he is starring in. The audition moves to a swanky restaurant, then to the luxury lodge where he is staying after being kicked out of his home by his third wife. He instantly and effortlessly seduces Beverly, telling her to “face her destiny” before deflowering her and sending her on her way.
Beverly is young, but she is no fool. Her mother was a dancer until she lost a leg in an auto accident, so Beverly grew up in show business, making her first appearance as a model when she was five years old. Fanning portrays her as, if not quite a schemer, at least an opportunist. She cries as she is being driven home from her first night with Flynn, but she is used to being taken advantage of and seems to chalk it up to experience. After all, who wouldn’t want a date with Errol Flynn? Expecting to be dumped, she is completely unprepared when an obsessed Flynn comes back for her.
One of the strengths of The Last Of Robin Hood is also its greatest weakness. It is based on a book called The Big Love, written by Florence two years after Flinn’s death in Beverly’s arms, and Sarandon is terrific in a series of flash-forwards that should serve to frame the story. But the writer/director team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland repeatedly refuse to pass judgement on their characters, which means the film is not really from Florence, or indeed anyone’s, point of view, leaving the story to meander into some disturbing territory. Scenes of Flinn plotting with his lawyer to get away with statutory rape can’t help but make you feel queasy, but Kline as Flinn, makes the whole thing sound charming. Unlike the swashbuckling films that made Flinn famous, The Last Of Robin Hood lacks heroes and villains.