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The Lawless Heart

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Lawless Heart

Starring: Douglas Henshall, Sukie Smith
Director: Tom Hunsinger
Rated: R
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: February 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Josephine Butler, Clementine Celarie, David Coffey, Ellie Haddington

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

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

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