The Last Word is a fairly generic comedy drama about an unexpected friendship
that has moments of wit and charm and is anchored by the strong acting performances from the always terrific Shirley MacLaine and relative newcomer Amanda Seyfried. Shirley MacLaine plays Harriet Lauler, a retired highly successful businesswoman and a curmudgeon not really liked by anyone in her community and family, who feels like she is at the end of her life and decides to commission her own obituary even before her death. Eventually, she enlists the obituary writer at the local newspaper and an aspiring writer,
played by Seyfried, to research her life and interview many people from throughout her life in order to write an appealing obituary. However, the young writer realizes that almost nobody is willing to talk to her about Harriet since so many have hated her for her grumpy and strict attitudes. After being faced with this reality, Harriet makes it her mission to craft the perfect obituary by creating new memories and trying to create positive relationships with others. Therefore, the final half of the film becomes a redemption story for Harriet who discovers her passion for music by becoming a DJ at a local independent radio station, becomes a mentor for a poor African-American girl, and eventually develops a close kinship with Seyfried’s character. My favorite part
of the movie is Shirley MacLaine who gives her typically perfect performance as a curmudgeon committing unintentionally funny antics but gradually comes to understand the meaning of life and tries to reform her ways before her inevitable death. Overall, I found it to be a cute film that had its moments of morbidity as should be the case with a movie about a elderly woman and her obituary, but the film would probably not work were it not for Shirley MacLaine’s spot on acting.