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Local Hero [DVD]
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Mac (Peter Riegert) is a young executive who flies to Scotland to purchase an entire town on behalf of the oil company he works for, which is run by near-psychotic Happer (Burt Lancaster). The townsfolk seem happy enough to part with their town, although they drive a hard bargain. Meanwhile Mac, who was wrongly thought by his boss to be of Scottish descent, begins to take a liking to the little village. Bill Forsyth directs - in his usual quirky manner - this gentle comedy.
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The plot of the film surrounds 'Mac' a thrusting Texas oil executive is of Polish born parents who adopted the name Macintyre in order to fit in the US. However Mac's eccentric boss believes he is Scot so sends the reluctant but ambitious negotiator to the remote West Coast of Scotland to purchase a fishing village for conversion to an oil refinery....."Surely I don't need to go there, I am more of a Telex Man".
As someone who spends time in corporate America and the West Coast of Scotland...I feel Macintyre's aching nostalgia as he returns to his empty City apartment....the sea shells pulled from his pocket instantly take him back to the place and the people who he was supposed to 'purchase' but instead ends up falling in love with. He opens the door to the balcony and the sirens and traffic noise of the city fill the room contrasting heavily with the peace and character of the rest of the film and 'Mac' knows his life is changed forever.....The full melody of Knopfler's eponymous theme tune rises to its crescendo and you know no matter what.....things will be OK.
Strange times Archie, strange times
It's the early 1980s and the North Sea oil boom is getting under way. An American company has identified a section of the coast of the Scottish Highlands that's ideal for a tanker terminal and oil refinery - the only trouble is, it's already occupied by a fishing village. Someone must be sent to buy the place up, with a suitable cover story of course because there will be trouble or price hikes if people learn what's going on. The eccentric boss selects one of his rising young executives, MacIntyre, for the job, on the grounds that's he's Scottish and therefore best equipped to deal with the villagers.
Mac doesn't dare tell the boss he has no connection at all with Scotland (his family were Hungarian, they changed their name to MacIntyre when they immigrated because they thought it sounded suitably American) and so heads off on his mission. Soon we more on to the two plot twists that underpin the rest of the film. The first, predictably, is that Mac is so overcome with the beauty and charm of the village he doesn't want his mission to succeed and starts to wonder how to make it fail without losing his job. The second is that the villagers, who have to live in the place and eke out quite a hard living, really want to sell and are just interested in making sure they get the best price. How are things resolved? That's the story.
"Local Hero" has many strengths - the characterisation, the acting, the storylines and scripting, the quirkiness, and above all the gorgeous beauty of the location and a sound-track to match. It's not perfect - the tedious sub-plot involving the company boss and his therapist could have been dropped, and we get the joke about the Kirk minister of the village as soon as we set eyes on him, he doesn't need to keep reminding us he's from Africa. But these are minor drawbacks in what is otherwise a really good film. The DVD extra features are also worth watching.
I defy anyone not to enjoy this film.
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