The Heart of Me

The Heart of Me is the type of movie that gives British period pieces their reputation. It looks fantastic. The costumes and sets look authentic, and the acting is refined, with all the characters ardently repressing all their emotions (in an English way) until they burst. And it is pretty dull. The literary feel that the film has comes from the fact that it is an adaptation of the novel The Echoing Grove by Rosamond Lehmann. This is an example where something that may work on the page may not necessarily work on the screen.

This should not discount all the work that went into the film. As mentioned before, it looks great, and the acting is good, but there in The Heart of Me that isn't in any number of other British films. Rickie (Paul Bettany, A Beautiful Mind, A Knight's Tale) is married to Madeleine (Olivia Williams, The Man From Elysian Fields, Below), although there is no passion. Madeleine is a child of strict British society, where social stature is more important than anything else. Madeliene is happy on the surface, because Rickie is successful in business, and able to afford a nice house for them and their son.

Madeleine's sister Dinah (Helena Bonham Carter, Till Human Voices Wake Us, Novocaine) is just the opposite. She cares little for what society expects of people, and rejects all of Madeleine's attempts to find her a suitor. Rickie finds himself drawn to Dinah, and the two begin a long affair. Part of Rickie's problem is that he finds both women desirable; he wants someone who is somewhere in between the two, and the pull of each woman begins to affect his health. Madeleine and Dinah's mother (Eeanor Bron, Iris, The House of Mirth) is doing all she can to prevent Dinah and Rickie from seeing each other.

Lucinda Coxon's (Spaghetti Slow, Messaggi Quasi Segreti) adaptation doesn't really go anywhere. The film flashes back between post World War II England and ten years earlier. There is a lot of information given that needs to play itself in the past, so the viewer knows what is going to happen, but not how it actually does. Things never really come to life until near the end of the film. By then, each character begins to realize that he/she is living a lie, and this causes them to seriously rethink how they view their lives. Director Thaddeus O'Sullivan (Ordinary Decent Criminal, Nothing Personal) does what he can, and Bonham Carter, Williams, and Bettany do nicely, but nothing can prevent The Heart of Me from not going anywhere.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 36 minutes, Rated R for some sexuality.

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