Things and people aren't always as they seem in "Lawless Heart", a poignant, intriguingly constructed film about love and loss set in Great Britain's scenic Essex countryside.
Using a funeral as a jump-off point, writer-directors Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger ("Boyfriends") follow the emotional journeys of a trio of male protagonists through three very different perspectives.
First, there's Dan (Bill Nighy), a devoted husband and father whose fidelity is put to the test when he meets an engaging French woman (Clementine Celarie) while attending the funeral of his wife's (Ellie Haddington) gay brother.
Then, there's Nick (Tom Hollander), the grieving boyfriend of Dan's restaurateur brother-in-law who finds himself increasingly attracted to the colorful Charlie (a terrific Sukie Smith), a supermarket checkout girl whom he first met when she passed out on his bed during a party at his house.
Finally, there's Tim (Douglas Henshall), Dan's cousin who has returned home after traveling the world for eight years. Temporarily bunking at Nick Place,'s the ne'er-do-well Tim becomes smitten with Leah (Josephine Butler), a dress shop proprietor who still has feelings for Tim's adopted brother, David, with whom she had an affair.
While it might all sound a trifle soapy on paper, Hunter and Hunsinger, not to mention their uniformly skilled cast, keep the various relationships grounded and tangle-free while fleshing them out with some gentle humor and incisive observations.
The result is a lyrical, affecting survey of modern romance with a decidedly English accent.