Back Row: Gary Slaymaker, S4C's Film Expert, Reviews the New Movies

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 2, 2003 | Go to article overview

Back Row: Gary Slaymaker, S4C's Film Expert, Reviews the New Movies


Byline: Gary Slaymaker

Heartlands (Cert 12a, 91mins) ** How do you follow up a review of the world's greatest super-hero team? How about a new British film about a sad corner-shop owner who takes a journey of self discovery on his moped to Blackpool?

I know, it hardly makes the short hairs on your neck stand up, does it? Welsh actor Michael Sheen plays Colin the shop owner, whose wife has left him for the arms of another man - a policeman, to be precise.

But determined to win back the missus, our Col jumps on his trusty moped and heads off to Blackpool in order to confront the pair.

And on his travels he discovers that life has more to offer than serving pick-and-mix and being unhappily married.

I'll get the cheap gag out of the way - a cross-country journey of self-discovery on two wheels might as well be called Easy Peddler.

But, much as I've always disliked Easy Rider for being pretentious, arty twaddle, I can't say that this working-class version has much to recommend it, either. It's a slight, episodic tale, with little to truly grab the attention. A few scenes catch the eye, and the cinematography is beautiful at times, but there seems to be a sneering quality about the whole film - almost as if it's now better to belittle the working class, rather than show them in a positive light.

Apart from the cinematography, the one major plus point of Heartlands is Sheen's performance as the put-upon Colin. Whereas the rest of the production team have gone for parody and cheap laughs, Sheen's performance ignores this and you end up hoping that the poor dab will succeed - or at least find some sort of happiness.

Despite this bravura performance, you come away from this film unsatisfied - and from the director who brought us the very funny East is East, I was hoping for something a lot more special. …

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