HEARTLANDS Image

HEARTLANDS

By admin | May 26, 2003

This British film is so gentle that it’s hard to believe it comes from the same director as the spicy comedy “East Is East.” But it has the same observational style that captures character details, even if it gets a bit swampy along the way.
Colin (Michael Sheen) is a simple nice guy doing the best he can for his wife Sandra (Jane Robbins) until he finds out she’s having a fling with his best friend Geoff (Jim Carter). And when Sandra and Geoff take off for a weekend in Blackpool, he jumps on his moped to get her back. Along the way he has a series of adventures, meeting an arrogant pub owner (Full Monty/Flintstone’s Mark Addy) and his tough single-mum girlfriend (Ruth Jones), a chatty Girl Guide leader (Celia Imrie) and a helpful biker couple (Mark Strong and Phillipa Peak). All of them teach him a thing or two about the real world.
This is the kind of film that keeps us smiling, not laughing, with its wry images and touching emotions. It gets a bit much here and there, as director Damien O’Donnell goes over the edge in his efforts to tug on the heartstrings. Performances are very good, especially from Sheen, although the character is perhaps a bit too nice-but-dim to be believed.
But he has a charming physical presence, especially in the film’s slightly absurd moments. Meanwhile, the supporting cast all do interesting things with their characters, although none are allowed to inject badly needed energy into the film. Yes, Colin’s journey is more than a little dull, mostly due to the script by Paul Fraser (“Once Upon a Time in the Midlands”), which tries far too hard to be quaint and sweet without ever properly focusing the characters or situations. As a result, we never really buy into it, even though we want to.

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