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|The Heart of Me|
Actors: Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Williams, Paul Bettany, Eleanor Bron, Luke Newberry
Director: Thaddeus O'Sullivan
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
A rich and emotionally charged drama about the seductive and destructive nature of passion. Socialite Madeleine invites her bohemian sister Dinah to stay with her and her husband, Rickie. Rickie and his sister-in-law fin... more »
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Reviewed on 5/3/2015...
The Heart of Me is a 2003 British period drama film directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan.
1930's London, before and after World War II. Two sisters - Madeleine and Dinah - One marries Rickie, the other falls in love with him. He begins an affair which is to have repercussions throughout their lives. Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Bettany and Olivia Williams. The film is an adaptation of Rosamond Lehmann's novel The Echoing Grove.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Terribly (and Wonderfully) British Drama
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watching the magic of THE HEART OF ME unfold on the screen, one would automatically think this was the product of the Merchant Ivory team, finding yet another treasure by Forster or James to illuminate. But no, this is the work of Director Thadeus O'Sullivan (and I don't know who wrote the screeplay). For those who enjoy the very British view of life and relationships in the era of World War II then this film will certainly satisfy.The story is rather simple: Two sisters, one man. Madeleine (Olivia Williams) is very correct and is quite properly married to a man (Rickie - Paul Betany) more for appearance than for (gasp) passion. Her sister Dinah (Helena Bonham Carter) comes to visit their proper home and is immediately attracted physically to Rickie. Dinah and Rickie begin an affair that results in a pregnancy. Madeleine discovers the affair but decides to remain married to Rickie because divorce is unseemly.
Rickie copes with severe ulcer disease and in the course of events the girls' mother (Eleanor Brun) has her daughter Dinah leave the scene of the sham marriage. Dinah gives birth to a stillborn girl and attempts to stay away from Rickie and her family by moving to Southern France with her girlfriend chum Bridie (Alison Reed). Tragedies upon tragedies occur as only they can in the British dramas - misinformation abounds, love persists, trysts recur - and the conclusion of the film shows at least a glimpse of resolution of this tangled family dilemma.The photography is splendid: London is foggy, the coasts are wispy and cold, the interiors are moody. The acting is absolutely first rate from everyone, but the two sisters radiate WW II England in the best of fashion. Helena Bonham Carter as rarely looked more beautiful or acted so convincingly and the same is true for Olivia Williams. And despite the conflicted cad Paul Betany is asked to portray he gives a subtle performance that suggests we will see much more of him. The bonus selections on the DVD are additive. The only complaint: ambient noise and the music score often cover the voices so the viewer must concentrate so as not to miss a delicious moment. Highly recommended."
Jennifer L. Hughes | Santee, CA USA | 02/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie strikes a deep emotional chord... two sisters, both very different, one an artist who follows her heart, which at times seems a bit impetuous, the other a reserved and proper wife and mother seeking seemingly unselfishly to maintain her status quo. The movie takes you deftly into their positions in life, and though you may have a favorite of the two by the end, it is surely not for lack of understanding the entirety of each character. Love and betrayal, candor and lies. Each loving the same man, for different reasons and purposes. It is an amazing journey that will take you through the spectrum of each emotion - longing, hope, despair, love, angst, pride, freedom, ultimate loss and again, hope. I highly recommend this movie. If you enjoy the dynamics of this movie, you may also enjoy Possession, in which Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam shine."
"I'm so ready to be happy"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gorgeously directed, and with some wonderful ensemble performances by Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Williams and Paul Bettany, The Heart of Me shows the terrible price one must pay for choosing between propriety and passion. The traditional romantic triangle is played out amongst the background of the well-bred English upper crust, where emotions are kept in check, and where decorum and respectability must be adhered to at all costs. For a film that is supposed to be about sexual passion, there is a noticeable lack of it, and what passion there is, is presented in a willowy, breezy "Marie Claire" kind of way. But this minor quibble shouldn't negate the power and the overall emotional effectiveness of the story - it's still very well done.
Viewers will probably realize that from the outset, none of the characters are ever going to achieve lasting happiness. Full of betrayal, tears, and deceit, and the notion that one must endlessly suffer for love, The Heart of Me - adapted from Rosamond Lehmann's 1953 novel The Echoing Grove - follows two sisters the impulsive Dinah (Helena Bonham Carter), the beautiful, icy Madeleine (Olivia Williams), and their handsome paramour, Rickie (Paul Bettany) though the glitz and glamour of London in the thirties to the end of the War. Dinah and Madeleine are two very different siblings: Dinah is a successful mother and is seemingly happily wed to Rickie who works as some kind of stock broker in the city. She's straight-laced and correct, always intent in maintaining her somewhat flimsy veneer of social respectability.
Currently Madeleine is engaged in finding Dinah a respectable husband. But Dinah is somewhat the rebel and celebrates in being anti-establishment; she loves passion and the arts and gets off on reading William Blake. Dinah rolls her eyes at Madeleine's efforts, and further incenses her sister and her Mother (Eleanor Bron) by taking art courses and walking off in rainstorms without caring whether she gets wet. She doesn't really want to marry anyone and she doesn't really care when Rickie tells her to break off the engagement to the dull, but socially impeccable Charles (Andrew Havill). Of course, Rickie is absolutely smitten with Dinah; they just can't keep their hands off each other, meeting for after work trysts and sessions of furtive love making - once in a park on New Years eve, and then in Dinah's own run-down, bohemian apartment that she shares with Bridie (Alison Reid).
Dinah and Rickie can't keep their secret for long, and Madeleine can't keep up her facade of marital bliss, and much of the movie centers on how they all navigate these potentially disastrous waters of deceit. Rickie is torn between duty, familial obligations, and his heart's desires, while the concerned Madeleine sits at home and frets cluelessly about Dinah's escapades with the mannish Bridie. Dinah hovers between passionate love, and fierce independence - in one scene, she vows that she's had quite enough of Rickie, yet later she confronts him in a crowded restaurant and begs him to take her back.
Structurally the movie is quite interesting: Madeline and Dinah meet at the dust-ridden, neglected family house after the war. Rickie is now dead - killed in the blitz, and both of the sisters must face the angry ghosts of the past. As they talk, they both reminisce - in a series of flashbacks - to those heady days in London when both of them were full of vitriolic passion. The movie is a masterpiece of tight voices, resolute looks, and carefully clipped phrases, with the three actors delivering marvelously shaded performances. The Heart of Me also touches on many universal themes - the battle between uncontrolled yearning and oppressive morality, the cost of sibling rivalry, and penalty of careless non-conformity; these themes are as timeless and as everlasting today as they were during the tumultuous years in which this film is set. Mike Leonard March 05.