Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on 22 January 2016
‘Lawless Heart’ is an interesting British film, with poignant, funny, and strong characters, a film which intermingles the stories of three men living in the Essex town of Maldon. It opens with a funeral wake and within five minutes we are deep into the conversations being held by the film’s main characters: Dan (played by Bill Nighy in another of his ‘lost in the wilderness of modern life’ roles), father of the deceased Stuart; Nick (Tom Hollander, playing one of his usual put-upon roles) the deceased’s other half; and Tim (Douglas Henshall), friend of the family and just returned home to the town like a prodigal son.
We replay this opening three times, each concentrating on the actions and thoughts of the three men. And this continual reprise of scenes from different angles probably accounts for the film not being a great success at the cinema but being hailed as a minor masterpiece after transfer to DVD. This is because you initially need to see it twice to appreciate the story and the film’s qualities, and indeed the more times I have watched the film on DVD, the more I have come to appreciate it. It is a shame that it appears on DVD in 4:3 perspective. The film comes with an excellent soundtrack, well edited into the narrative, especially in the transitions between the three stories.
The accompanying commentary features both directors as well as the three leading ladies (Ellie Haddington, Josephine Butler, and Susie Smith) who worked opposite the three male leads. (In the commentary, by-the-way, co-director Neil Hunter is often rude.) We learn that the part played by Tom Hollander was actually lined up for James Dreyfus. We are also told that the three stories were filmed in three different film styles, but I cannot claim to have noticed this. Much of the script arose from actors improvising.
Other extras on my DVD include a twenty-minute interview with the two directors; a ten-minute interview with Bill Nighy, who says he was attracted to the script because it did not have one eye to the other side of the Atlantic; and a ten-minute interview with the three leading ladies. There are also eight deleted scenes.