Lawless Heart

(Neil Hunter & Tom Hunsinger, UK, 2001)


Fed up with whimsical relationship comedies that tell their story back to front, or from three different perspectives? You will be, after seeing the low-budget English effort Lawless Heart, written and directed by the team of Neil Hunter and Tom Hunsinger (Boyfriends, 1996), and released in Australia four years after its production.

Set in a fairly drab seaside resort, the film follows the bumbling romantic fortunes of three chaps who have gathered at the funeral of a mutual friend, Stuart. Dan (Bill Nighy), seemingly content in his banal marriage, fantasises about a French visitor, Corinne (Clémentine Célarie). Nick (Tom Hollander), Stuart's partner, works out his grief in a messy heterosexual encounter. And laddish Tim (Douglas Henshall) has a lot to learn about growing up.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) this is not. Based partly on Mike Leigh-style improvisations with the cast, the dialogue clunks along with supposed witticisms like: "I once faked a broken heart, but I ran out of energy."

You can set your watch by this miserable movie, because exactly every twenty-seven minutes, the same events get told again from another viewpoint. This structure, while aiming to be hip and clever, only generates wearisome repetition and an occasional flicker of comic incongruity.

And the filmmakers cannot even maintain their conceit all the way to the end. They have to break the structure in order to resolve everything in a sentimental coda which preaches a highly original philosophical message: "Go for it!"

© Adrian Martin February 2005

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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