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After a suicide attempt, Lucas, a young homeless man in New York City, is taken in by Jacques, the gruff owner of a small bar. Jacques is on his fifth or sixth heart attack, and he wants Lucas to run the bar after he dies. Jacques has many rules: don't be friendly, don't serve walk-ins, no food or flowers or candles, put the cash in the freezer every night. Lucas, on the other hand, has a good heart: he gives his money away, he talks to customers, and, when April, a young French woman who has washed out of flight-attendant school, enters the bar chilled to the bone, Lucas takes her in. If Jacques won't tolerate April, what will Lucas do? Written by
Over the past two to three years, Iceland has mostly made news because of its economic meltdown and because of an unpronounceable volcano. Well, I would say that Dagur Kári's movie "The Good Heart" shows that the island still has a lot to offer us.
The movie tells the story of Jacques (Brian Cox) and Lucas (Paul Dano). Jacques is a short-tempered bartender who suffers a heart attack and is put in a hospital bed next to the derelict Lucas. Jacques decides to take Lucas under his wing and teach him the bar-tending business. Although not the nicest person, Jacques is determined to give Lucas a good life. But when Lucas takes unemployed flight attendant April (Isild Le Besco) his wing, the story gets started on an irreversible path.
The movie has really good character development. Just watching Jacques on the screen made me feel as if I was walking on eggshells. It certainly gave me an idea of what it must be like to be a bartender and have to deal with certain kinds of people every day. Even though Jacques is kind of nasty as a person, we understand why he's like this, and by extension get a sense of what Lucas and April have to put up with.
Like I said, it was a real surprise that much of the funding for "The Good Heart" came from Iceland, and that much of the crew and cast is from the North Atlantic island*. This movie could be seen as the manifestation of Ísland's** potential return from its economic collapse during the past few years. I strongly recommend "The Good Heart" and wish Iceland the best. Lofsöngur!
*Many of the names employed the letter thorn, written Þ (upper case) and þ (lower case).
**That's Iceland's name in Icelandic.
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