on 27 January 2012
I've just seen Junkhearts at Chapter Arts centre in Cardiff.
I saw Junkhearts solely because I'm a big fan of Eddie Marsan and wanted to see him in a lead role, as I think he's a fantastic actor with a great range and a lightness of touch. As expected Eddie Marsan was fantastic, here playing an ex-solider, and brought a freshness to quite a now archetypal character. Familiar as this archetype is, the character is normally played out in a flat depressed state that flies off the handle at a moments notice. Instead the director Tinge Krishnan chooses to create a distance between the character of Frank and everybody else, in terms of the acting, the cropped framing, the use of negative space, and specific points of focus, which works really effectively.
Within Junkhearts we are also introduced to newcomer Candese Reid, who was found at Nottingham's Television Workshop - famous for Paddy Considine and the This Is England cast. Her character Lynette works her way under Frank's emotional barrier, fully realised in a spine-tingling scene where Frank cracks his first smile we've seen, bathed in gorgeous sun light.
The performances of Frank and Lynette felt truthful and authentic and I felt sympathetic to each character and that's a testament to the director. Furthermore, the execution of the script really engaged me throughout.
It was incredibly shot by Catherine Derry, I loved the self-defence/dance scene seeped in sunflare, the lovely bokeh in the bar scene with Shaun Dooley and Romola Garai, the bleak scenes in and around the tower block and lifts, the uncomfortable framing with Eddie when he's having flashbacks, the lovely slow-motion when he dances, and I loved the practical lighting, and the strip lighting inside the flat.
If you like the work of Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, Mike Leigh, and Shane Meadows, Junkhearts could be right up your street.
One to watch in 2012.
on 22 December 2011
I couldn't recommend Junkhearts highly enough - if you only choose one film to see in 2012 I implore you to make it this one. I went to a showing of Junkhearts at The Renoir not sure quite what to expect, feeling compelled to go with a friend who had seen it advertised at the London Film Festival. I would have been satisfied simply to have been able to say I'd seen it if I'm honest. Instead I found myself completely lost in the lives of Frank and Lynette - an army veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and a homeless girl from Nottingham. The story that unfolds seems bleak from the outset but it completely took my breath away. Sure it's not for the fainthearted, but it's also funny, moving and showcases a script full of wonders I couldn't have hoped to expect.
on 23 January 2012
Junkhearts is a really beautiful, moving film - I caught it at LFF and was really impressed by the quality of the filmmaking and cast. Its so rare to see established actors like Romola Garai and Eddie Marsan tackle challenging roles (I'm thinking in comparison to War Horse which I saw the other day...).
Yes, its not the easiest subject matter but in that way its very similar to Fish Tank - the same care has been taken in production, and it is a heartfelt, sometimes heartbreaking film.
Junkhearts is directed by Tinge Krishnan and written by Simon Frank. It stars Eddie Marsan, Candese Reid, Tom Sturridge and Romola Garai. Story has Marsan as Frank, an alcoholic ex-soldier suffering nightmares over an incident that saw him shoot a young mother. Frank strikes up an unlikely friendship with Lynette (Reid), a homeless girl sleeping rough on the streets. Once barriers are broken down, Frank takes Lynette into his home to stay, but it's not long before Lynette's drug dealing boyfriend comes a calling...
For the most part Junkhearts is a very gritty slice of British miserablism. The pic is populated by addicts and wannabe gangsters, in a part of London built of dingy concrete council abodes, and where single promiscuous moms struggle to keep a grip on their lives.
Director Krishnan suffered herself from PTSD, so she was on hand to ensure the great Marsan could do the role justice, while there's a refreshing street believability about young Reid's performance. The camera work is intense and deliberately intruding, with the sound work being hypnotic to add bleaker tones to the characterisations.
The harshness and hurts of addiction rings true here, as does the key betrayal plot line and the breakdown of Frank. Unfortunately the parallel plot line featuring Romola Garai undermines the grit and grime surrounding Frank and Lynette's world, and it sadly serves only to give the pic a somewhat disappointing ending. Whilst the introduction of gun and knife crime appraisals don't strike the requisite powerful chords.
Yet even with its flaws this is still an intense film, with Marsan on top form and some other technical smarts on show, it's well worth a look by anyone interested in a slice of some moody British underbelly. 7/10
on 22 December 2011
This is a beautifully shot story about the vulnerable being overpowered by the vulnerable. The story focusses on two people who have found themselves in differently impoverished states, Frank (played by the wonderful Eddie Marsan)an ex serviceman plagued by post traumatic stress disorder from his time in Ireland and Lynette (played by Candice Reid - winner of the best british newcomer at the London Film Festival) a homeless runaway from Nottingham.
The story itself is based on a situation known as 'cuckooing' - where drug dealers take over vulnerable people's homes and use them to deal drugs out of. This is the basic story and, without wanting to ruin the film for those that haven't seen it, sees this phenomenon play out in some pretty harrowing and disturbing ways. It certainly isn't a feel good film and sits firmly in the grittier end of gritty realism, but allows you to glimpse into a world where you certainly wouldn't wish anyone to go - but the fact that this does happen is all the more disturbing.
Frank is a former soldier struggling to cope with memories of his time in Northern Ireland. He self medicates, if alcohol and cigarettes can be regarded as medicine. Like the shopkeeper, he buys them from you wonder why he doesn't buy a large bottle instead of miniatures, but this is probably his way of rationing his intake. The story follows the father-daughter relationship he develops with 16 year old Lynette, a homeless girl he takes into his flat and the problems that follow when her boyfriend Danny muscles in too.
The best part of the film is Eddie Marsan's portrayal of Frank and his daily struggle to live with himself. The camera work going in and out of focus as he goes about his life helps to realise his turmoil while his character remains laconic. Candese Reid also shows a lot of promise as the troubled Lynette. They share some good scenes as they try to help one another along, my favourite being Frank acting as go between trying to get her on a course shouting, 'do you want to be a business woman or a nurse?'.
Other parts just don't ring true. The suddenness of Frank and Lynette's relationship took a willing suspension of disbelief and Danny's forced Belfast accent made me wince once or twice. There is a parallel, but not well developed storyline regarding Christine, a young woman living in a better post code on precarious means. As soon as she says 'I don't have a father' you know who she is. Her story is kept in it just enough to try to justify the hurried ending.
It's a decent effort but doesn't quite find the right balance of grittiness and heart.
on 22 December 2011
I saw this film at the London Film Festival. It rocks. Don't take my word for it. Here's a review from Anton Bitel on the Eye For Film site:
Middle-aged Frank (Eddie Marsan) is a broken man, and utterly alone. Still traumatised from his experiences serving in Northern Ireland, and long estranged from his wife and daughter, he leads a dazed existence in his elevated council flat in London's East End, stumbling out only to replenish his supply of cigarettes and whiskey miniatures. Lynette (Candese Reid) is similarly alone - a mouthy 17-year-old Nottingham runaway sleeping rough on the streets below.
Though their first contact is awkward and aggressive, these two lost souls are soon drawn into each other's orbit, and as Lynette moves into Frank's flat, the father-daughter bond that forms between them enables both to start rebuilding their lives. With Lynette, however, comes her boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge), an opportunistic and exploitative dealer looking for a new crack den and, as a native of Belfast, embodying all of Frank's worst nightmares - and before things can get better they are clearly going to get a lot, lot worse. Meanwhile, as upper-middle-class business woman Christina (Romola Garai) struggles to balance the accounts of single motherhood, adultery and drug use, a piece of unexpected bad news brings home her own sense of isolation.
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Indeed, while the different characters' storylines in Junkhearts will all eventually converge in a not entirely unpredictable manner, loneliness is the thematic glue that binds them together, transcending class to drive everyone to the kind of self-destructive displacement afforded by addiction. Tinge Krishnan, whose 2001 short Shadowscan won a BAFTA, suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after working as a volunteer doctor in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, and brings that experience to her feature debut, depicting Frank's day-to-day life in a woozy blur of half-focused hand-held close-ups and hallucinatory sound design.
It is a striking audiovisual style which rescues this production from many of the more hackneyed tropes of British social realism and urban grit - and Simon Frank's screenplay earns its contrived (but too open to be truly contrived) ending by getting us there through the unapologetically bleak terrain of betrayal and breakdown. Frank, in particular, is put through the emotional wringer in this film, with Marsan expertly incarnating each and every scar of his character's delicate psyche, in a sort of flipside to his role in Tyrannosaur - although the lesser known Reid also holds her own.
Perhaps most extraordinarily of all, while Frank may, like the title character of Luc Besson's Léon (1994), be a killer who trains a much younger female ward in the art of fighting, neither of them actually comes to blows, thus giving the lie to the old cliché that a loaded gun seen in a movie must eventually go off. On the contrary, here cycles of violence and other dependencies have to be left behind, and debts are paid with old money rather than given new currency.
on 9 November 2015
This a very good film, excellently portrayed by the cast. It is not an easy watch, in terms of the subject matter, and at times it is quite disturbing, but it is just so well done. You find yourself connecting with both the leads, in different ways, and the story is so good, and knowing it actually really happens make it even more grittier and disturbing. This won't be to everybody's taste, but I would seriously recommend a viewing.
I'm surprised, here on Amazon at how many of the handful of reviewers had seen Junkhearts 'properly', at local indie arts centres and community cinemas - I saw it on Sky Movies Indie.
It was stuck away, out of sight in the graveyard slot and (yet again) Radio Times stuck two stars on (out of five) and only provided a brief synopsis, which all those who've made the effort to actually see the flipping film will know, hardly glows with optimism! Nothing about the great acting or the actual experience of actually seeing it.
Those brave enough to try it, as those reviewers who seem so knowledgeable have really appreciated this gritty little drama have been amply rewarded. Many really enjoy Marsden's work - I frankly, usually hate most of the roles he plays and that always (but shouldn't, I know) tars him with my brush of indifference and frankly, my own ignorance.
Taking a gentler role but also a far deeper one, he still totally unflatters himself as the PTSD suffering ex-soldier, who now leads a life stocking up on miniatures of alcoholic spirits from the local corner shop and not looking after himself. In fact, the make-up department has done a really excellent, frighteningly real job at making him look as an alcoholic could/would, with facial psoriasis, blotches, it's all there.
The story of how he first invites young rough-sleeper Lynette into his badly maintained and dirty flat as he feels a certain resonance, maybe to his own daughter, who he has not seen for many years. The way he has shut down the blinds through drink to try and escape the nightmarish flashbacks he suffers and how these slowly un-peel as Lynette gives him both something else to think about and her youthful optimism is both quietly life affirming but also handled very realistically.
There are no flashes of miracles or finding the Lord, or even finding a new job or quitting drinking for Marsden's character, because this is real life with real people and not Hollywood made up tosh. Sure, it's an ugly side of life we'd all rather didn't exist and if it has to, somewhere else and afflicting someONE else, please!
The little details don't really need a mention - it's the film as a whole you're going to see and remember and at times you do really wonder if the story, or the people ever do raise their chins above the floods of poverty and misery. People are usually stronger and more resilient than we are lead to believe, if they are given the chance to do the things they need, if they can be left to do it their own way and in their own time, but just given a gentle push by something profound and strong.
As other reviewers have said, this really is a good Brit drama and one worth rooting out, and rooting for.
on 11 February 2012
I like the actor Eddie Marsan, he pulls off a decent performance and made the film watchable. Thats where the good points end, the film has a a good idea and story but the script and plot aren't good enough the result is implausible, cliched characters. I wouldn't recommend this, wait for it to come on the TV and save your money.