‘The Last Thing He Wanted’ review: Anne Hathaway deserves better than this

Anne Hathaway in ‘The Last Thing He Wanted’

Anne Hathaway in ‘The Last Thing He Wanted’  

Based on celebrated American writer Joan Didion’s eponymous book, this political thriller from Netflix should be given a hard miss

The biggest problem with The Last Thing He Wanted and really, the most basic, is that it is a challenge to know what is going on from the get-go. It doesn’t help that practically every character insists on speaking in jargon, innuendo or analogy every time they open their mouths.

Based on celebrated American writer Joan Didion’s eponymous book, the film opens with The Atlantic Post reporter Elena McMahon (Anne Hathaway) and photojournalist Alma Guerrero (Rosie Perez) coming across the aftermath of a massacre in Morazan Department, El Salvador, in 1982. Soon after Elena files her copy, the office in El Salvador is raided and she and Alma are forced to flee.

Cut to two years later and Elena is a political reporter, asking the Secretary of State uncomfortable questions about Nicaragua and Contra supporters.

The Last Thing He Wanted
  • Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Rosie Perez, Edi Gathegi, Toby Jones
  • Director: Dee Rees
  • Storyline: A reporter becomes part of the story she is trying to break after agreeing to help her ailing father
  • Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes

Elena tells her daughter Cat, who is at boarding school, that she is hoping to get a job at the Central American bureau but then is given the bad news that instead of moving closer to the action, she will have to cover Reagan’s reelection campaign. While still following up on the arms story she has been working on, her father, Dick (Willem Dafoe) suddenly shows up. Initially in great spirits as he has an arms deal to complete with a payout so good that it’s his ticket out, Dick’s ebullience soon turns to panic after he is admitted at the hospital. And so he asks Elena to fill in for him.

Now, if you think this is the part where the film goes into high-octane mode, you would be wrong. Instead it becomes even more incomprehensible, particularly with Elena’s choices. She appears to trust everyone and yet no one.

While she is brokering the deal and getting paid for the ammunition in cocaine instead of money, the politicians in Washington have been thinking over how she can serve their interests, specifically Treat Morrison, “the man on the spot in the world’s hottest spots”, played by Ben Affleck.

The film is mainly a vehicle for Anne Hathaway who turns in a predictably solid performance playing the “unafraid and over-driven” Elena. It’s just too bad that she isn’t in a better film.

Stray thoughts

While eating that most American of desserts, apple pie with ice-cream, the Secretary of State gives an analogy on three of them eating the same dish. However, he tells Treat Morrison, who is using a fork, to use a spoon. “Scrape down the sides, no remainders. Nothing missed.” Sir, a fork will work just as well. (Except when having soup, of course.)

Sure, the desk will correct it, but shouldn’t Alma know the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’? And while on the subject, shouldn’t Elena have said ‘beat the effect’ and not ‘affect’?

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 9:17:11 PM |

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