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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Heartlands
Heartlands
Newsnight Review discussed the film Heartlands directed by Damien O'Donnell.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

MARK LAWSON:
We have had Bend It Like Beckham. This is a sort of Throw it Like Bristow, a darts version.

MICHAEL GOVE:
It's trying hard to be charming. It's arch, twee, shallow, one of the worst films I have seen in a long time. It's like being drowned in a vat of mushy peas to the sound of wailing folk music. It has very little to redeem it; the central character is unsympathetic. The depiction of the Midlands or the north of England is a caricature of working-class culture, circa 1973. The depiction of Blackpool is cartoonish. Mark Addy has a certain car- crash watchability, but the film has almost nothing to redeem it and the soundtrack is deeply, deeply depressing.

PAUL MORLEY:
I hesitate because I am going to find myself agreeing here, Michael. I almost wanted to say a big resounding "yes" to what you just said, but I will carry on. It's sadistically gentle. It's terrifying. I can't bring myself to use any extreme words here. There were moments when I felt it was being directed by Orville the Duck and everyone seems to have Keith Harris hair cuts. I couldn't cope with the fact that we are again being put into this corner of English movies that represent us in such a twee, pathetic little way. There is the Full Monty, the Brassed Off and the Bend It Like Beckham. It's the darts, folk songs and the moped. The combination chilled me to the bone.

MARK LAWSON:
It's set in the present, yet they all have these perms.

PAUL MORLEY:
It would be the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s. It could be anywhere. And the god outside the machine is Eric Bristow. Please god outside the machine, help us!

BONNIE GREER:
There is the part of me that loves British film, that loved elements of this film. The performances, the way it was shot. The photography was lovely. The sea was nice. My friends in their 20s, the core audience for films, are not going to go and see this. Why make a film that nobody is going to see? Do you know what I mean, it's not going to happen. It's not going to do the business that it should do.

MARK LAWSON:
I went to a public screening in London this afternoon and I was the only person. It was the first screening of the day. There was fantastic photography. There is a scene which makes a connection with Don Quixote, where he goes to a wind farm. There is a shot above from a camp site which is fantastic. A beautiful looking film. Damien O'Donnell's composition of some of the scenes - in the shop, for example, the detail, there is real talent behind the camera. The problem is with the script which is sentimental, thin and light weight, but real behind the camera talent here.

MICHAEL GOVE:
Two of the most memorable scenes, seared on my mind with pain, one involves the hero falling off a swing, the other involves the villain splitting his trousers, both of which would have been rejected by Benny Hill.

PAUL MORLEY:
There's also this weird thing that they have discovered Blackpool. It's been there many years. Don't give it to us like it's a radical discovery.

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