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Heart of the Deal (1990)

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Complete credited cast:
Lisa Blades
Mitchell Bryce


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Very effective little thriller with a simple premise, atmospheric direction, great conclusion and a great performance from Ruben Blades
30 July 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A small time accountant, Graham, has a four o'clock appointment with two new clients. However, when they arrive they surprise him by having no interest in accounts but instead they have come to make him an offer. Their boss has a teenage daughter who is dying and needs a massive transplant of organs and there is only one match in the area – Graham's wife Beth. They place a contract in front of him, offering him a large amount of money in return for permission to murder his wife and use her organs. Despite initially rejecting the offer out of hand, the two men try to slowly wear him down.

I have seen many of these films from the production company Chanticleer because they are being shown again under the banner of Short Story Cinema. My main criticism of the films is the light jazzy score that tends to run through all of them and give them all a similar feel, however the last couple I have seen have not done that and this film is an example of how good the films can be. The film is a simple set up – a sort of Indecent Proposal where the money doesn't buy a night with your wife but OK's a knife for your wife and it is immediately engaging because, like all these type of things, we wonder 'what would I do'. The film is almost totally set in Graham home office and it is tense and a little claustrophobic for that. The writing may not do anything spectacular but it does set the mood very well and we see Graham crumble. It is very enjoyable and the ending is a real nice one that honestly surprised me and made it a better film.

Although the film is set in Graham's office, it is all done in black and white and his room is lit like an interrogation room – fitting perhaps, because that is what it feels like after a while. The direction delivers the sense of foreboding really well and it also produces a great central performance from Ruben Blades. Blades gradually breaks down and he does it so well that you can practically see the cogs turning in his head as his initial moral outrage is replaced by cold logic, justification and greed. Spano and James Karen are both good as the devils on his shoulders (Graham needs to be his own angel here) and Lisa Blades does OK in a small role as Graham's wife.

Overall this is a simple but very effective short film and one that is well worth seeing if you ever get the chance. The writing is simple but chillingly effective, putting us on the spot as well, and it is complimented by atmospheric direction, a good direction and a really good performance from Ruben Blades.

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