Lawless Heart

The death of a loved one is always provides a chance for people to take stock in their lives and figure out what is important. Lawless Heart begins with the funeral of Stuart, beloved brother, partner, and friend, and co-directors and co-writers Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter (Boyfriends) use this as a starting point, examining the effect Stuart's death has on three men who were all close to him. Lawless Heart doesn't tell the stories concurrently, but tells them one after another, mixing light humor, sadness, and a sense of renewal. Each character has his own segment, but the stories do converge at certain points. Lawless Hearts' gimmick (an awful word in this case) is that each story happens sequentially, then the film loops back to the funeral, where it starts again.

This is an unfair word to use because most other films would structure the narrative such that each additional story reveals something further about what is going on. This is not the case for Hunsinger and Hunter. For the most part, the structure is unnecessary, although it probably does keep the focus on each of the men, who are dealing with Stuart's death in distinctly different ways. Each has a woman enter his life, forcing him to rethink the way he is living. Dan (Bill Nighy, Lucky Break, Blow Dry) is Stuart's brother-in-law. Stuart's sister Judy (Ellie Haddington, Breathtaking, Beautiful Creatures) own a farm that is struggling to remain solvent. Stuart has some money that Judy and Dan could use for the farm, but they are thinking of giving it to Nick (Tom Hollander, Possession, Gosford Park), Stuart's lover. Stuart's death shakes Dan out of the sense of complacency he has in life, igniting in him an interest in Corrine (Clementine Celarie, A Hell of a Day, Du Cote des Filles), which he pursues like a little boy. This segment almost feels like comic relief at times.

Nick is reminded of Stuart every day at work; he still runs the restaurant both of them owned. He meets Charlie (Sukie Smith, Topsy-Turvy, Peggy Su!), and begins a relationship with her. Nick was much younger than Charlie, and uncomfortable in their small town. He is in a daze, and is seeing Charlie as a way to find himself. Yes they both know he is gay, but that is beside the point. Charlie and Nick are completely different people. Charlie is spontaneous, carefree, and not too smart. Nick enjoys the finer things in life, and is much more reserved. The most poignant story follows Stuart's boyhood friend Tim (Douglas Henshall, Twice Upon a Yesterday, Unscrew). Tim, wanting some excitement in his life, left town years ago. He returns after years of doing nothing. Tim, like Charlie, feels at times like an accident waiting to happen.

Stuart's death comes as a complete surprise to Tim, who slowly begins to realize that he needs something of substance in his life. This comes in the form of Leah (Josephine Butler, Shiner, Out of Depth), who is a friend from a long time ago. Tim's story is that of somebody finally maturing and growing up. He has many things that he needs to fix, and he realizes this. Henshall has the unique ability to look thoughtful and completely out of it at the same time. Taken as a whole, Lawless Heart shows how one thing can affect three very different people different ways, all for the better. It's not always in the most predictable way, but then again, no one ever said life itself was predictable.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated R for strong sexuality/nudity and language.

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