Saturday, May 24, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - THE HEART OF ME

THE HEART OF ME is a beautifully acted, intricately plotted, emotionally devestating costume drama based on the novel by Rosamond Lehmann. It starts off looking like a conventional period drama. In post-World War One Britain, an upper class man called Rickie (Paul Bettany) is cheating on his snobbish, cold wife Madeleine (Olivia Williams) with her bohemian sister Dinah (Helena Bonham Carter). When Dinah becomes pregnant he decides to leave his wife, who is devestated, but apparently more so because of the social shame than because of the emotional hurt. Events take a turn and reveal significant character flaws and development. Rickie can be callow - amazed and appalled by the magnitude of his decisions. Madeleine developes a sort of predatory survival instinct that seems monstrous but also plausible. Dinah has a quite remarkable capacity to love but also to act like a spoiled, hurt child.

If the movie were just about an affair it would be a rather narrow and unoriginal film, no matter how well-designed the sets or how convincing the performances. (And they *are* convincing. Olivia Williams won the BAFTA for Best Actress that year, edging out Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Morton for IN AMERICA and Tilda Swinton for YOUNG ADAM.)

The real strength of the film is to show the consequences of the affair through the following decade, mixed up in the chaos of World War Two. Is it possible to be reconciled after such a betrayal? What does one learn from such events? There are no trite answers or melodramatic flourishes. Just a realistic, tremendously affecting exploration of horrific events.

THE HEART OF ME played London and Toronto 2002 and was released in the UK in 2003. Olivia Williams won the Bafta for Best Actress. THE HEART OF ME is available on DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment