The Story: A woman walks through a train car, her dress covered in blood, her handbag dripping. She walks off the train and goes to a cemetery where she begins to tear and dig into the ground before the police haul her away...
Gary Ellis has marital problems. Consumed by suspicions that his wife, Tess, may be cheating on him with one of her co-workers, a writer named Alex, Gary, rattled by the stress, drops over from a heart attack. He is in need of a heart transplant, and during his convalesce and waiting for a donor, Tess, perhaps pushed by Gary's jealousy, does begin to have an affair with Alex. When a young promising athlete has an accident, Gary finds his donor, and after a successful transplant he feels like a new man. He tries to patch up his marriage, but between his jealous bitterness and Alex's snide jokes and prodding, the marriage is still on uneven ground... Things get even stranger when Gary seeks out the donors identity and finds his young mother Maria, who is rapt with grief over losing her son. Maria soon shows that she was more than just consumed with love for her son, and she begins to try to wedge herself into Gary's ever increasingly dysfunctional marital life- a life that is on a quick pathway to violence and murder.
The Film: Heart (1999) strains to be a neo-noirish film, replete with seedy characters, a big 'twisteroo' ending, launched by the old marital strife, cheating and jealousy clichés. It is also completely unconvincing and becomes utterly laughable despite its dreary dramatic tone and attempts to shock... The film begins with basically, its ending, leaving us to wonder, what is in the bloody bag that Maria is carrying?, but midway through the film, you'll realize its so bad you wont even care.
It is a bleak film, so straining to be dark, it becomes an over the top assault of horrible acting and outlandishly stupid writing. All of the characters are complete depressive psychos without an ounce of interesting characterization. Its all just teeth gnashing, foaming at the mouth, nasty raving on the men's part, and pathetic, loony, scatterbrained qualities for the women. Combined with the weak script, it amounts to may groan inducing moments. For example: after his transplant, Gary asks the doctor if he'll be able to "...get back to work soon" and the doctor instructs Gary's wife that the house will have to be disinfected and all pets removed before Gary can go home, both questions one would think a heart transplant patient would be well prepped for in advance... In that old body transplant movie cliché, Gary is instantly invigorated after the surgery, now able to physically act like the young man he has the heart of, and this is taken even further when Gary ridiculously wears the young mans boxing gloves when he beats up Alex... Maria, who should be the films one sympathetic character, comes off the worst. As a mother obsessed with her son, henpecking, hinging her life on her now deceased child, she takes a psychotic interest in Gary's life, going thorough his medicine cabinets and noting to his wife that she has birth control pills. After dropping by to give him fresh vegetables, she shows up at their house again, with her toothbrush, fully intending all along to try to stay there. And, in one of the most awkward, "What were they thinking?" moments on the writers part, she tells Gary a story about how her son couldn't sleep one night when he was six, because he had a hard on, so she performed fellaccio on her own son to ease his discomfort.
Initailly, Hearts selling point would be its writer and director Jimmy McGovern and Charles McDougall, men responsible for the massively popular British detective series Cracker. But, at one hour and twenty minutes, they pad the film with a long transplant scene, and cant find any kind of thrilling balance in the hackneyed idea or characters. Take out the bared flesh, violence, and sex and it would be a fair throwaway tv movie thriller. It feels like a direct to video movie, but its got a first rate cast of British stars: Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, Elizebeth, The Others) as Gary. Saskia Reeves (Antonia and Jane, Butterfly Kiss, Dune 2000 mini-seires) as Maria. Kate Hardie (Croupier, Safe, The Krays) as Tess, and Rhys Evans (Human Nature, Notting Hill, Twin Town, Little Nicky) as Alex. Sadly, all involved seem lost, and its its a wonder no one looked at how ridiclous this film script was and stopped it before wasting their time and money.
The DVD: Spartan Home Entertainment.
Picture- Fullscreen, Need I say more? A theatrical film, we get a tease of credits in letterbox and then the dreaded switch to fullscreen. For a 1999 film the transfer looks horrible, bad compression, way too dark, leading to loss of detail and figures/faces disappearing into shadows and too heavy contrast. Colors are okay, but there is a tad too much grain and wear for a film made just a few years ago.
Sound- Dolby Digital 2,0 Stereo. Not horrible, but not great. The film boasts a weak soundtrack with many out of place classic pop songs jammed over the scenes. There are a few instances where the the dialogue is muffled. Optional Spansish Subs, Close Captioned.
Extras- 12 Chapters--- Trailer--- Director and Cast Filmographies (no bios) for McDougall, Hardie, Evans, Eccleson, and Reeves.
Conclusion- Pretty bad movie, worth a watch if you like the stars and catch it on cable late one night, or maybe rent it. As far as the DVD goes- Lackluster print. -Wrong Ratio. -Few extras- High $MSRP$ -Skip it.