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The Lawless Heart
The Lawless Heart
Actors: Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Douglas Henshall, Clémentine Célarié, Ellie Haddington
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
R     2003     1hr 40min

Lawless Heart is a sharp, modern love story where lust, loyalty and courage are stretched to the limit. Shocked by the death of a friend, three men decide to take their lives in hand. But under the influence of three begui...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Douglas Henshall, Clémentine Célarié, Ellie Haddington
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: First Look Pictures
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/19/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish

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Movie Reviews

An understated film with terrific ensemble acting . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 11/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a lovely, touching film about human relationships set in a small English town, where the death of a man sets in motion a number of unpredictable changes in the lives of the man's intimates as well as complete strangers. The plot and characters are actually poorly described in the promotional copy reproduced above in the Editorial Reviews. And certainly the cover photo misrepresents the film entirely. It's not about sexy-looking women taking off their clothes.

The film is really three inter-related stories, each told with a different central character - a brother-in-law of the dead man, a best friend who's returned home after many years, and the dead man's gay lover. Unlike "Rashomon," the stories don't contradict each other. Each, being from another point of view, emphasizes and reveals different things, and they overlap only every now and then. Besides the point that everyone is a walk-on in someone else's life, the film reminds us that what we know about other people is only what's visible, which is limited, but being at the center of their lives doesn't necessarily provide them with privileged insight. All three men, in one way or another, "don't have a clue," as one of them admits.

I loved this film. You sense that it could easily unfold in a multitude of directions, if we could only follow all the characters. Some clever use of props, like a coconut and a silk scarf, weave through a couple of the stories, gradually taking on a significance of their own. But for the characters there is far more ambiguity, which is reflected in the final scene, as they watch a home movie, and we watch their faces, quietly reflecting emotions unknown to each other and that we can only guess.

"
Uniquely Engaging Relationship Film
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 09/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Stuart has died in a boating accident, leaving his sister Judy (Ellie Haddington) to sort out his money and his lover Nick (Tom Hollander) to manage the restaurant that they owned. Judy's husband Dan (Bill Nighy) wonders if he would be happier if he had an affair, and he wonders what being happier might mean. Nick isn't sure if he should stick around or move to London where he has friends, and he seeks consolation in a dysfunctional but lively woman named Charlie (Sukie Smith). Tim (Douglas Henshall), who was a childhood friend of Stuart's, has returned to town in time for the funeral. Tim has always been an errant hippie of sorts, but now he has found a woman with whom he'd like to settle down, only to find that she loves his adoptive brother David (Stuart Laing)."Lawless Heart" is a film about relationships and the decisions that they entail, told three times from three different perspectives. My description of the film may make it sound like a soap opera, and perhaps it is in the most basic sense. But "Lawless Heart" is, for the most part, understated and lacks the melodrama of pulp fiction. Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter both wrote and directed the film. Their decision to tell the story from three different points of view and through three different experiences sets "Lawless Heart" apart from many other movies that explore interpersonal relationships in that the differences in perspective and what people don't know about one another become central to the film. As soon as we realize that we are seeing the same set of circumstances from a different point of view, the audience focuses on the divergence of the perspectives and looks for new information that might fill in the gaps left by the other perspectives. In this way, "Lawless Heart" engages the audience more than films of this genre generally do. The three different perspectives that we observe are those of Dan, Nick and Tim. The story takes place over the course of a few weeks and focuses on three events: Stuart's funeral, Tim's party, and Judy's birthday. "Lawless Heart" has a nice symmetry, and watching the same three events three times doesn't seem repetitive. Fans of true-to-life films about interpersonal relationships will enjoy "Lawless Heart"'s multi-perspective twist and admirable dramatic performances."
A story that follows the lawless emotions of three men.
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Lawless Hearts is a slick, well-made British soap drama, which is probably most notable for the ingenious way it tells the story. Viewers who like realistic British, character driven drama will like this film, particularly those viewers of the East Enders or Two Thousand Acres of Sky on PBS. Well acted with a story that is told from multiple viewpoints, Lawless Hearts - using the symbols of a coconut, a tacky scarf, and a stolen corkscrew - is a rather bittersweet tale of three very different men who are thrust together after the death of a friend.

Set in a seaside town in England, the deceptively simple story follows the frustrated Dan (Bill Nighy) as he's led to ponder his marriage and life choices after the death of his brother-in-law Stuart. Stuart was a gay restaurateur whose sudden death has sent his friends and family into emotional tailspins. At Stuart's funeral, Dan meets and forms a connection with Corrine (Clementine Celarie), an attractive flower arranger. Tim (Douglas Henshall) is also at the funeral. He's a hippie lay about who has returned after eight years abroad to a lukewarm reception from his family and a possible budding romance. Nick (a marvelous Tom Hollander) is Stuart's lover and business partner, and while waiting for the outcome of Stuart's estate, he befriends Charlie (Sukie Smith), a damaged, spunky woman who helps him grieve and makes him rethink his life.

Stuart's funeral provides the centerpiece for each man's journey as the three men's stories branch out from this central incident. The story constantly shifts perspectives, as we see the same incidents from each man's viewpoint. The search for love and the ability to cope with devastating loss is at the heart of this film. Dan is unfulfilled in his marriage and contemplates having an affair; Tim is disenfranchised from his family, and is desperately searching for love; and Nick - the most complex and fully rounded character - is so emotionally fraught over the loss of his lover and partner, that he can't decide whether to stay where he is or move to London to live.

While each character is faced with the complications of love and loss, Lawless Heart is ultimately about perspective-how each of us sees the world, and how our preoccupation with that view can blind us to the experience of others. The unique story telling structure, which at first might seem gimmicky to some, is actually a really good way to show the intricate points of view, and there is never a scene that is repeated from the same angle.

All the actors are excellent and do a good job of conveying the naturalism of their characters. Tom Hollander is especially good. Family conflict - dealing with monetary inheritance - and also sexual politics are well presented and there's a particularly fanciful moment, when Dan asks Nick whether he's ever been unfaithful in his relationship with Stuart - it's an awkward meeting of the gay and straight worlds. Lawless Heart is a quiet, intimate film, which some viewers unfamiliar with British dramatic realism may find a little dull. The film demands a focused viewing as there are many intricacies, subtleties and symbols which the viewer will need to grasp in order to really appreciate this film as a whole. Mike Leonard January 05.
"
Arresting drama
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 06/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"***1/2 "Lawless Heart" feels a bit like a confused mess at the start - until you realize that it is telling the same story from the perspective of three different characters. When the elements begin to fall into place, the film becomes a touching human drama about exactly what the title implies - the inability to make the heart do what one wants it to do.Written and directed by Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter, the film begins at the funeral of a gay man named Stuart who drowned a few days earlier in a boating accident. The story focuses on three of the people closest to him: Nick, Stuart's lover; Dan, Stuart's brother-in-law; and Tim, an old friend of Stuart's who's been off trying to make a success of himself and not doing a very good job of it. Rather than relate the tale in a straightforward, linear fashion, the filmmakers have chosen to employ a multi-level narrative structure, showing us events first from the perspective of one character, then backing up time and showing us them again from the perspective of another. Although the technique is often more distracting and gimmicky than illuminating, the film ultimately becomes a moving study of loss, jealousy, confusion and passion, with each of the film's many characters (not just the three listed) making a memorable mark on our hearts. The movie is helped immeasurably by its highly gifted cast, its complex interplay of character and time, and its understanding that the one thing we can't control is who we care for and who we love. The maturity of the film is evidenced in the fact that each of the characters comes to learn that he must temper his passions if he hopes to get through life with his sense of morality and decency - and his self-respect - intact. Well written and acted, "Lawless Heart" is a quiet, unassuming film that has some important things to say about The Big Three: life, death and love."