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Once Upon a Time in the Midlands [2002] [DVD]

Robert Carlyle , Ricky Tomlinson , Shane Meadows    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Once Upon a Time in the Midlands [2002] [DVD] + A Room for Romeo Brass [DVD] [2000] + Somers Town [DVD] (2008)
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Product details

  • Actors: Robert Carlyle, Ricky Tomlinson, Rhys Ifans, Kathy Burke, Shirley Henderson
  • Directors: Shane Meadows
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Widescreen, Anamorphic
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Oct 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002W19RO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,068 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is credited as the closing part in a loosely connected trilogy by director Shane Meadows. A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) and Twenty Four Seven (1997) preceded it, and ultimately the viewer will be hard pressed to discern anything other than the British Midlands locale linking them together. That and the generally grim tone. Here we have what boils down to a tale of a girl (Shirley Henderson) who can't decide between two guys (her ex, Robert Carlyle, or her current boyfriend, Rhys Ifans). Wrapped up in some easy comedy and framed in the occasional nod to the spaghetti western genre, the movie initially has plenty in its favour. Unfortunately, the intrusion of a B-plot, involving some Scottish thugs, overpowers the more pleasant family portrait. As a result, the stellar performances by Kathy Burke and Ricky Tomlinson get lost in the drama of the love triangle. After swinging back and forth indecisively, Shirley's conclusion to the tale doesn't have the emotional punch that it should have. This third Midlands tale may be the most accessible in terms of familiar characters and aspects of contemporary British life, but it isn't the kind of escapist movie experience suggested by its title. --Paul Tonks

Product Description

Dek (Rhys Ifans) and Shirley (Shirley Henderson) live together happily, until Dek proposes to her on national TV. Enter Shirley's ex Jimmy (Robert Carlyle), the (very) absent father of her daughter who Shirley hasn't seen for 20 years. Will she say yes to Dek or is Jimmy in with a chance?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost like reality 25 Mar 2006
When Jimmy wakes up and sees his ex-girlfriend, Shirley, on the telly, taking part in a chat show, he can hardly believe his eyes. Then when he notices that his foster sister, Carol is sitting next to her, having her relationship with the father of her children, Charlie picked over by the participating audience, he comes properly awake. And then, when some prat comes shambling on stage with a bunch of flowers and proposes to Shirley - and Shirley, stunned and embarrassed, turns him down, Jimmy is suddenly filled with a sense of macho competitiveness and is determined to go down to Nottingham and win Shirl back. His efforts throw the lives of Shirley and her friends in to chaos.
There were three reasons to buy this DVD: 1) I live in the Midlands, 2) a host of my favourite actors are in the film and 3) it came highly recommended. Reason 1 is probably irrelevant, as a previous reviewer has mentioned. The characters in the film represent people in similar communities all over the country. Reason 2 is valid. There's Robert Carlyle (Jimmy, the idle Glaswegian petty criminal ex-boyfriend), Ricky Tomlinson (Charlie, Carol's Country and Western performer ex-partner), Kathy Burke (cheerful, tolerant Carol - but at the end of her tether with Charlie and Jimmy) and Rhys Ifans (the dorky, uninspiring but faithful Dek) - and they're all brilliant. The other, not-so-well known actors are good too. Reason 3 turned out to be right. I really enjoyed the film. Low-budget films like this have the advantage of being forced to rely on a good story, good direction and excellent acting because they can't deceive the audience with amazing special effects. It's like real life. I recognised these people. I've met people just like them - and liked them.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I recently saw 'This is England 86' on TV and impressed by Shane Meadows thought I'd check out his filmography/back catalogue. I've enjoyed most of his other films but was very disappointed with this, especially given the excellent cast.

Plotless, meandering, unfocused, unfunny. The latter is the film's really weakness. I think Shane Meadows is an excellent writer of drama and even comic moments within drama - but outright comedy is obviously not his forte. Even the issue of comedy is problematic. This is how the film is billed (a point emphasised by its cast) and yet not only is it lacking in humour, towards the end it seems to turn into a serious drama.

[Spoilers in this next bit.] I must also say that the film lacks any psychological depth/realism. Shirley falls back in and out of love with unconvincing speed with Jimmy who in turn goes from wanting a second chance to unreconstituted slob literally overnight.

Given the title, I was also a bit disappointed that there were no references to or thematic links with Sergio Leone's work.

Like I say Shane Meadows is a talented writer/director - but he was definitely having an off year with this project. If you've seen his previous worked and enjoyed it you might be best to avoid this. It lowers his batting average.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A major disappointment 27 Aug 2006
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
From the days when it was a legal requirement to cast either Robert Carlyle or Rhys Ifans if you wanted to get lottery funding for a British film, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands is another in Shane Meadows' line of deeply disappointing films before he finally came into his own with Dead Man's Shoes. To be fair, the project went through major development Hell, and the results are all too obvious in the sketchy construction and characterization. Carlyle's bad boy spurred into winning back his wife Shirley Henderson (sporting the most irritating little girly voice in history) from nice guy Ifans after seeing her on a daytime TV show is never really developed or even properly introduced, and the plot, such as it is, doesn't get going until the movie is half over. The tone is awkward, with Carlyle opting for convincingly unpleasant naturalism while Ifans lapses too often into sitcom acting, leaving the acting honors to go to Kathie Burke. There are a couple of excellent moments at a park bandstand and a final confrontation that hint at a better film that could have been, but it's all too easy to share Meadows' own disappointment with the film as a whole.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good budget movie. 17 Oct 2008
Set in the Midlands, i bought this movie because i was born in Nottingham, i spotted alot of things that were familiar with the film so i loved it.

The film itself is good, with no American actors to spoil it, it drags on a little and i think that it could have had a better storyline, i just love everything lower-class about this film, language, cars, situations are all spot on.

Great film for anyone who likes British films.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as bad as I'd been led to expect. 28 Feb 2006
If the interviews and commentary-track on the Dead Man's Shoes DVD are anything to go by, even Meadows himself considers this film to be something of a failure... even going so far as to take up semi-retirement until Paddy Considine could talk him into making another film. As a result of Meadows' personal opinion, coupled with the critical notices at the time, I'd avoided the film under the allusion that it was an absolute cinematic disaster... a Brit-flick turkey completely devoid of merit!! As it happens, however, the film isn't all that bad, or at least, not as bad as I'd been led to believe by the director and the critics.
The story is simple, with Meadows and co-writer Paul Fraser playfully attempting juxtapose the conventions of the western genre with the more traditional style of British storytelling favoured by the likes of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. So, we have the usual western flourishes - the lone desperado riding into town, the fight between the two protagonists over the hand of a fair maiden, and the big mid-narrative showdown in the local saloon - appearing alongside the more obvious British concerns like family-ties, shell-suits, day-time talk shows and bingo. The combination of the two forms isn't entirely successful, and it seems that the filmmakers aren't quite committed to the concept 100%, with certain parts of the film simply descending into the style of filmmaking usually reserved for an ITV social drama. The use of the widescreen "cinema-scope" photography works well, with Meadows lovingly referencing the films of Sergio Leone, most prominently in the scene in which Robert Carlisle's character Jimmy has an altercation with the bumbling Dek, brilliantly played by Rhys Ifans, at the auto-garage where he works.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
brilliant film
Published 12 days ago by kelly-marie green
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed this british movie
Excellent,arrived in good time. Brilliant british movie,with excellent british known actors. Very good all round movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it.many thanks
Published 1 month ago by me and my missus
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this movie if you like a good brit film ...
I love this movie if you like a good brit film give this a look funny and moving at times
Published 1 month ago by chris lanham
5.0 out of 5 stars funny
film starring rhys ifons, (twin towns) jim royle, kathy bates. low budget laugh out loud story, great acting. must see
Published 6 months ago by dark magic
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good!
Really good movie with Robert Carlyle and Shirley Henderson! It's so great to see them in the same movie or serie again and Mr. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Zorrow
5.0 out of 5 stars Great British vulgarity
I had never seen this film, but with Kathy Burke, of Gimme, Gimme fame, i thought it can't be bad. Eureka! I found a little gem. Read more
Published 8 months ago by QM1
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic.
brilliant true to life film. Funny and sad rolled into one. This film is so true to life whether you are in the Midlands or anywhere else.
Published 9 months ago by Alison Brunning
4.0 out of 5 stars once upon a time in the midlands
dont know what to say about this one. i loved it but then it was filmed not far from where i used to live. worth watching
Published 11 months ago by brummieguy
2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong dvd
This film is great but I was sent wrong dvd. I ordered the double disc in order to get the extras.
Published 14 months ago by nicola hodgkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD FILM
saw ths on television and bought it to own - really good film - good acting - very enjoyable film
Published 19 months ago by Fred
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