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The Heart of Me (2002)
Nearly The Death of Me - possible spoilers
First off, let me admit that I didn't make it to the end of this film. I love costume drama, I'm a fan of Helena Bonham Carter, but this film was too slow even for me. Yes, it had its moments of visual beauty, but the story dragged and the characters were unengaging. Paul Bettany plays - or at least recites the lines of - Rickie, object of desire for two women. One woman is his wife, Madeleine, played by Olivia Williams. She's the sensible, more conventional one. We know this because she says very little and grows flowers. Helena Bonham Carter plays the arty, bohemian sister, Dinah - easily identifiable as a bohemian type because her clothes don't fit properly, her hair is uncombed and she wears too much dark eye make-up.
Yes, it's that stereotypical. I was so disappointed. I expected much better of this film, but it was formulaic and unconvincing. I left not long after the affair between Dinah and Rickie was discovered by Madeleine. So she knew about it. Yes, we knew she knew. But when I couldn't find it in my heart to care what she did about it, I knew it was time to give up on this film.
It could, however, be marketed as the ultimate cure for insomnia.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997)
If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a book of poetry. For ever.
I loved this film. It's much more cheerful than the book, but what's wrong with that? Artistic license can be a wonderful thing, and those who wanted it to be 1984 should go and watch 1984. When I watch this, I see Gordon Comstock engaged in a futile battle against his own intrinsic middle-classness. He's a pain at times and the film has endowed the character with more humour than he had in the book, probably so that the viewers understand why his friends don't just leave him to stew.
Grant is perfectly cast as Comstock, and keeps him just this side of bearable. Bonham Carter is equally perfect as Rosemary, the long-suffering girlfriend. Add in an excellent supporting cast and there you have it.
The soundtrack's beautiful, except for the song at the end which just shouldn't be there. The settings are stunning, as they rightly should be. All in all, it's a perfect, witty film and one I will never tire of.