Last Will (2010) Is a Won’t
For audiences that love melodramatic soap operas about wealthy people who gamble and kill each other, Last Will sounds like a good bet. Starring Tatum O’Neal in what is alleged to be the true story of Kansas City’s Hayden Emery, a woman who marries well and six months later is framed for the murder of her husband, the film is the antithesis of a good anything. The cast includes a handful of familiar faces (James Brolin, Peter Coyote, Tom Berenger, and Moon Unit Zappa) who may not have been taking their jobs as actors seriously, judging by performances that range from awful to indifferent.
The story, in an appropriate nutshell, boils down to this: a woman marries a rich guy, they are madly in love, his brothers think she’s a gold digger, the husband dies under mysterious circumstances (if being kidnapped by your brothers and held hostage in a casino can be considered “mysterious”), and the brothers attempt to frame the wife for murder.
There is no chemistry between any of the characters; each performer seems to be acting in a different movie or to have been filmed in a room by him- or herself. Last Will is stylistically incongruous, with the most interesting performance provided by James Brolin. I’ve always been James-Brolin-neutral; I’ll watch him act, but I wouldn’t watch a film just because he’s in it. His quirky interpretation of the role of Detective Sloan brings what’s-with-this-guy levity to a film that is dismally second rate (or maybe third…fifth?).
Not that the actors had great material. The police procedures and investigation are laughable plot conveniences; the dialogue is unnatural. For some reason, halfway through Last Will, there is an interminable montage of happy scenes from Frank and Hayden’s marriage—all of which the audience has already seen—accompanied by a drippy song. It’s excruciating.Continued on the next page