Heartless (2009) dir: Philip Ridley

I had no preconceived expectations for this film whatsoever as I had no idea who Philip Ridley was so I sat down to watch with interest.  (Turns out he wrote ‘The Krays’, is a playwright and lyricist and is a very nice man who is passionate about film making.)

A Faustian story of Jamie (played by Jim Sturgess in a pretty committed performance), a young man with a heart shaped birth mark covering part of his face and upper body, who shuns direct contact with people but sees lizard type daemons dressed as hoodies on the streets of East London. These daemons go around viciously killing people.

Watching it I felt myself torn in different directions because the film is both pretty conventional and kind of obvious where it’s going to any horror fan, and yet unconventional at the same time with it’s setting and style. So watching it, I could feel myself going “this is not too good”, then something would happen and then I’d go “actually this is really good after all”, then something else would happen and it would be “oh man that’s annoying – you should watch more horror films mate” then boom “that’s pretty clever, I’m hooked!”.

Afterwards, I realised that I had missed some of the subtle details in the overall design and look of the film but other story elements were a bit obvious and I personally would have preferred the film to have ended differently – but that’s just me.  But you know what?  I really liked it! And it was great to see part of East London (Shoreditch to Bethnal Green) which I’m pretty familiar with. I even noticed that one particularly seedy looking location (where Jamie hooks up with a rent boy) is the exact spot where I often park (not to pick up rent boys I hasten to add but to go to one of the many great Vietnamese restaurants round the corner). Anyway, I digress.

Interesting supporting cast includes Luke Treadaway, Noel Clarke, Timothy Spall and the lovely Clémence Poésy. The always brilliant Eddie Marsan almost steals the movie as ‘Weapons Man’ (and is worth the price of admission alone) and Joseph Mawle is pretty creepy as ‘Papa B’.

I think it’s going to split an audience’s reaction (which is not necessarily a bad thing) – but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Author: fosstuff

I'm a writer, director, producer & composer

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