Reading the obituaries of her contemporaries, Harriet contacts Anne (Amanda Seyfried) to write her obituary for the local newspaper. Given Harriet’s prickly personality and Anne’s naivete, this business proposition seems doomed to failure. Upon closer examination of what makes a good obituary, Harriet creates four goals to achieve before the shadows claim her. Dragging a reluctant Anne along with her, Harriet embarks on a series of escapades.
Under director Mark Pellington’s confident direction, The Last Word unfolds in realistic fashion. Each one of Harriet’s goals is abstract, but the human interaction is humorous and feels true. There are many scenic gems found in this movie. Among the highlights are Harriet’s attempts to be a benefactor to an alternative radio station and be a mentor to an African-American girl of a single mother.
As both producers and actors, MacLaine and Seyfried form a good team. MacLaine is the dominant personality, but Seyfried gives a transitional performance that is endearing. These two veteran actresses develop a fine chemistry with young AnnJewel Lee Dixson, the African American child forced to take in a mentor. MacLaine, Seyfried and Dixson shine during an emotionally tense lunch scene with Harriet’s daughter (Anne Heche).