THE LAWLESS HEART, jointly written and directed by Tom Hunsinger and Neil
Hunter, is a nice but frustrating film. It's frustrating because it is so well
made and acted but can never find much of anything to say. With a large
ensemble cast, the movie creates a host of characters worth caring about if they
were ever given something meatier to say or do.
The story starts at a party after the death of Stuart, a local restaurateur who
died in an unseen boating accident. Stuart left behind a boyfriend, Nick (Tom
Hollander), a sister, Judy (Ellie Haddington), and a dog. Judy and her husband,
Dan (Bill Nighy), are dairy farmers without much money. They have to decide
whether to give Stuart's money to Nick or keep it for themselves. Judy wants to
do the right thing by giving it away, but Dan sees it as a matter of financial
necessity that they should keep it. Like most of the story, however, no sooner
is the issue of the money introduced than it is dropped, not to be heard of
again until it is resolved in a spur of the moment decision in the end.
The rest of the story has Dan having a brief fling of infidelity, and Nick
sampling and regretting a heterosexual assignation. Just after the midway
point, the movie rewinds and tells the same story from the viewpoint of Tim
(Douglas Henshall), a cousin of the deceased. When the two stories are finally
brought together, the audience is left waiting for some narrative payoff that
never occurs. I liked all of the characters. I'd really love to see them again
if they could just locate a script worthy of them.
THE LAWLESS HEART runs 1:39. It is rated R for "strong sexuality/nudity and
language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes