Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In director Phillip Ridleyís film ĎHeartlessí we are introduced to Jaime, as played by Jim Sturgess, who is a photographer working for his brotherís studio, with Jaime having the misfortune of being born with a debilitating heart shaped birthmark that covers the left side of his face. Now this birthmark is debilitating to Jamie only because he allows it to debilitate him, which I believe is one the messages that Ridleyís odd romance / horror / thriller / drama is attempting to toss in our direction.

At this particular time in London hooligans are simply running wild in the streets, setting people on fire and committing all kinds of mayhem and chaos. I can only assume that this is a real problem in the boroughs right now considering Michael Caine and ĎHarry Browní dealt with the same issues. There is something about these thugs however that only Jamie can see. It appears that these thugs are demons. Real live, straight from hell, razor tooth sporting demons. The public at large thinks that these thugs are just wearing masks but Jamie knows better. Worst still is that these demons know that Jamie knows which is a situation that isnít going to go all that well for Jamie and those who are close to him.

So something really bad happens to Jamie that puts my man in a revenge state of mind, but then Jamie makes the acquaintance of Papa B. (Joseph Mawle), who we would probably recognize more accurately as Satan, and while Papa B. is pretty much responsible for the actions of these demons and thus is responsible for the really bad things that Jamie has experienced, he has made Jamie an offer he simply could not refuse. Now I think we all know that making deals with the devil never works out for the recipient in the long run, but in the short-term it almost always seems like a good gamble. Jamie gets to lose his debilitating birthmark, gets the pretty girl (Clemence Poesy) and his life will be fab. All he has to do is scribble some bad things about God every once in a while and the deal is finalized. What Jamie apparently didnít know, something that most of us know, is that Satanís nickname is The Prince of Lies. If only Jamie had known that.

Papa B. has gone and Ďadjustedí the terms of the deal. And while being beautiful and having sex with the pretty girl is nice and all, what Jamie has to do keep the good times coming is something else altogether. Observe as Jamieís world collapses around him.

Truly, I do not know what to make of this movie my friends. Every once in a while Iíll watch a movie such as ĎHeartlessí and Iíll put on my faux artist Kangol and invent prose about what the artist was attempting to get across to the audience, in essence mocking said artistic film, but out of respect for Phillip Ridley and his movie Iím not going to do that with this one. You see most of the time, at least in my opinion, I donít get some of these types of movies mainly because there is nothing to get with the filmmakers just shoveling in nonsense under the guise of complexity. This one on the other hand is probably just beyond me.

The basic message of this film is pretty clear, that being 'free your yourself' as the majority of the obstacles that people place in front of themselves are self imposed, thatís all fairly obvious, but it is some of the other stuff in the film thatís a little more baffling. For instance, we meet the cute as a button Eastern Indian girl Belle, played flawlessly by young actress Nikita Mistry who started out as Satanís miniature right hand man and ended as Jamieís charge, referring to him as her father. Iím sure this all meant something significant, hell if I know what that something is. There are many visual elements in the film that have certain representations which you may or may not be able to get with, but the most important one would be the question, is anything Jamie is experiencing real? Not surprisingly this question is open for interpretation as well.

Whether or not ĎHeartlessí is a good movie is also something that is equally open for interpretation. Jim Sturgess turned in a solid performance supported ably by the aforementioned Mistry and Mawle, not to mention Noel Clarke as a concerned neighbor and Eddie Marsan in a brief scene which by itself probably makes the movie worth watching. But it is confusing, overly so at times, and it is open ended which is something that usually doesnít appeal to a lot of folks. And if by Ďa lot folksí I mean me, then thatís what I mean. But is also unique which is something that quite simply is not seen near enough in todayís cinema.

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