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In the 19th century London, a young girl falls for a famous womanizing criminal and they decide to get married. Her family strongly disapproves so her father "the king of thieves" gets the gangster arrested.
Devastated by Stuart's death, his brother-in-law, lover and best friend decide to take their lives in hand. Dan is a faithful and loving father and husband, until the day he meets Corinne. This buxom and sublime Frenchwoman seduces Dan with her honesty and hedonism, so much so that he wonders if he hasn't missed out on life. Nick, a homosexual restaurant owner, begins a relationship with a high-spirited young woman right after losing his lover, Stuart. When their apparently innocent relationship takes a more intimate turn, Nick is troubled by his feelings for his female comrade. Tim, carefree and charismatic, comes home after eight years abroad. Still looking for that "elusive something" that has been missing in his life, Tim finds it in a woman who works in a fashion boutique. But confronted with his future for the first time, the only thing that stands in the way is this unknown woman's past. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Pleasing low budget drama about people, places and relationships.
After the death by drowning of a small time homosexual restaurateur by the name of Stuart (David Coffey), three sets of lives are changed and altered: not only by the death itself, but by each others reactions and counter-reactions to the tragedy.
Anyone who has put on their "reading glasses" and watched any worthwhile number of European cinema will have been confronted by films about "small people" who lives seem petty and insignificant in the telling (or even in the retelling to others): but reflect more about you and your life than the complete cannon of Bruce Willis. This is another example.
Lawless Heart (an over-the-top and misleading title) takes on a very simple story of loss, passing and the small amount of attached inheritance money. Nevertheless, it has to be borne in mind that the cash would mean a lot to the people who would receive it. There is also the vexed question of "natural justice." Something I don't want to flesh-out further in this review.
Maybe to try and distance itself from quality television, the film uses separate point-of-view flashbacks and although it might sound complicated and tricky in-the-telling, it is not too difficult a concept in-the-watching.
(Once you catch on to the technique that is. It left me a little confused for a while.)
While I enjoyed this film enormously, I must start with a string of petty irritations and focus bringers. The first being that there is really nothing new on the menu (no restaurant pun intended), the French have been doing this type of thing for years without the rest of the world really noticing.
(Those that enjoyed this film and want "more of the same" might like to start with the 1983 "Pauline à la plage." Not the same story - far from it - but the same basic approach and small home truths.)
Equally a list of well known emotion wranglers have been blended in to try and soft soap the potential audience: The use of emotive music (Adrian Johnston), 8 mm home movies and time-lapse photography has all been done before; although this film shows some imagination even in borrowing!
The movie deals with a homosexual relationship in a welcome manner. It is no more abnormal than anyone else's relationship, although that doesn't mean that everyone approves or wishes things weren't different.
Equally it never presents anything as the-end-of-the-world. People may
or may not - come in to the small amount of money we have already
mentioned, but we are sure they will all survive whichever way the cookie crumbles.
Small town life is well captured, although with any ensemble piece you have your favourites. It doesn't really present women in any great light with the dorkish Charlie (Sukie Smith) providing some comic relief as the slightly out-of-it party girl who cannot - after a hard days night - even remember where she lives!
Thankfully no one is that smooth an operator and the various "rejecting women" probably have a certain amount of good taste. Layabout Tim (Douglas Henshall) is actually fascinating as we take an instant dislike to him and his leeching ways, but we slowly warm to him as the picture goes on - even if he shows no appetite for having a regular job or living anything other than a self-centred life.
Trust me I am not a sucker for sentimentality or bland emoting. Someone crying or in grief doesn't prompt me - automatically - to feel the same way, and there are plenty of characters here that could do with a good shake if not a soft kick up the backside.
In most ways Lawless Heart is a "soft sell" movie: It doesn't want to sell you anything unless you want to be a buyer of it: People live, people die, people fall in love, people fall out of love, people are mismatched in love. Occasionally people even come to terms with the limits of others.
Good work all round from the actors, producers and musicians. Without a fortune to spend I was quietly moved, even though I was trying hard not to be.
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