The Heart Of Me (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/04/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Enjoyable, sumptuous period drama – brilliantly acted, with impressive photography and a terrific score.

The Heart of Me, which was the closing film at last year’s London Film Festival, is loosely based on The Echoing Grove, a 1953 novel by Rosamond Lehmann. Set between 1936 and 1946, it stars Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams as two sisters, Dinah and Madeleine.

Dinah (Carter) is the more flighty of the two, whereas Madeleine is seemingly colder. After the death of their father, Dinah moves in with Madeleine and soon begins an affair with her husband, Rickie (Paul Bettany).

Problems In The Offing…

Naturally, things don’t turn out too well, and, intercut with the story of the affair, is a meeting between Dinah and Madeleine some ten years later. The screenplay, by Lucinda Coxon is impressively structured and constantly plays with your expectations of where the story is going.

The acting is first rate. Bettany, in particular, is fantastic – one critic has referred to his “wounded angel face” and that seems to sum him up perfectly.

Even though his character isn’t entirely sympathetic, he has an exciting, charismatic intensity that illuminates the screen – he’s shaping up to be one of Britain’s best actors.

Bonham Carter Tolerance Levels

Similarly, both Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams give excellent performances. It’s true that Carter has done this sort of thing many times before and whether or not you like the film may come down to your Bonham Carter tolerance levels.

Williams, however, gives perhaps her best screen performance to date, as a seemingly repressed woman who gradually reveals great depths of feeling. There’s also great support from Eleanor Bron as the sisters’ scheming mother.

The gorgeous-looking posters for the film give some idea of what to expect in terms of its sheer glossiness and indeed it looks fabulous, courtesy of sumptuous cinematography by Gyula Pados. It also has a terrific score, by Nicholas Hooper – in fact; the music is so good that it almost detracts from the film.

In short, this is a treat for big screen period drama fans, despite the odd sneaking suspicion that it could easily have been made for TV. Having said that, it’s co-produced by the BBC and so could easily end up on the box within the year. However, it’s definitely worth seeking out on the big screen. Recommended.

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Content updated: 17/07/2018 22:34

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