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The Heart Of Me (2002)

Passion brought them together, love will tear them apart

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


Hearts ache and upper-lips are stiff in this tough-going period drama from BBC Films. Based on the novel ‘The Echoing Grove’ by Rosamond Lehmann, it’s the sort of flick only a diehard fan of the genre could love – though even if you fit into that category, you’ll probably still find yourself wondering how on earth it made it to a big screen release, so destined does it seem for Sunday night TV.

The film kicks-off in 1934 with a funeral scene, and doesn’t get much cheerier from there on in. Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams play the two well-to-do siblings drawn into conflict over their mutual love for the skeleton-faced cad Paul Bettany. Williams’ character Madeleine is already married to him, which would seem as good a claim as any, but little does she know that he’s been nipping out for a spot of afters with her shameless sis.

One thing that stands out about ‘The Heart of Me’ is the quality of the acting. Both Williams and Bettany perfectly convey the uncomfortably-subdued passion we’ve come to associate with wartime Englishness (certainly on screen, anyway). Bonham Carter, meanwhile, seems mis-cast (her character, Dinah, is bizarrely spoken about as if we’re supposed to think of her as some sort of spanner-faced grunter, even though it’s completely obvious that the opposite is true), but still produces as impressive a performance as either of her co-stars.

That the actors manage to come out of the whole thing looking as good as they do is little short of miraculous, given the over-whelming dullness of the story and monotonous approach of the director they’re working under. Thaddeus O’Sullivan treats every scene with identical languor, regardless of its importance to the story, effectively turning this into one of the least “dramatic” dramas I can ever recall seeing.

It's Got: Polite chortling around the dinner table.

It Needs: To cut out the confusing – and totally needless – leaps back and forth in time.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, a deleted scene, and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


All heart and no trousers.