Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Heartless (2009) - Once it stopped trying to take itself so seriously, it really grew into itself

Viewing context:
LoveFilm; Heard about it during a very limited release. Sounded intriguing, low key and genuinely indipendent.

Written and directed by Philip Ridley (always happy to see something written and directed by the same person), who also wrote and directed the star studded, yet seemingly underwhelming The Passion of Darkly Noon from 1995.

What Happened:
Young adult Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess) has a severely diminished self confidence due to the birthmark taking up half of his face. When offered to make a deal with the devil in order to remove the mark, he has a renewed self confidence and appreciation of life, but was it worth the cost - dum-dum-duuum.

What it did particularly well:
Attracted some relatively big names for such a small indie Brit flick, particularly Eddie Marsan, who has been in some right crackers recently. The characters of Daddy P and the Weapons Man were both over the top touches that the film needed to give it the weight it required as such a high concept film.
The film also looked great (Cinematographer was Matt Gray). It was no accident that the lead character was a photographer; the director clearly empathises with the character and shares his photographer's eye.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
Seemed reluctant at first to cross a 'twilight zone' threshold, but when it eventually did, it became much more interesting. Up until that point the acting was a little wooden and the characters were quite two dimensional. It needed an extra dimensiona and when Jamie made a deal with the devil and saw the imaginary indian girl, it became much more interesting.

The blatant, 'be careful what you wish for' and 'if something seems too good to be true, it usually is' tropes exercised here. Although there was more to it, especially the backdrop of Jamie dealing with losing his dad at such a young age and what a vacuum this can leave in a young boy’s life; thus, justifying why the character would be motivated to accept such a simple route to a different life, without considering the consequences.

Performance of the film:
The Weapon Man by Eddie Marsan (was superb in Happy Go Lucky). After Daddy P had already been quite strong, he just came in and give it that stamp of class.

Scene of the film:
The scene when he first met Daddy P is what really kickstarted the film.

Final Word
It really seemed like a labour of love for somebody with a good photographer’s eye and a decent twilight zone feel to it.

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