underdog's picture

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****

Philip Ridley is back to theatrical movie-making after nearly fifteen years. In Heartless, he's come up with something so strange and frightening, marvelous and moving, apocalyptic and chilling -- and perhaps undecipherable (but you probably won't mind) -- that all I can say is: See it. (I’ve just seen it for a second time, and, yes, it’s still undecipherable, though I may be getting closer.) The man who made the cult movie The Reflecting Skin (sadly not on DVD) and who wrote The Krays (also not on DVD) is an artist, and I don't think that it's so much that he won't compromise his vision, as it is that he can't. Just as well, too -- when one’s visions are this original.

At the time of the film‘s theatrical release, I spoke briefly with its star and director, and when I remarked on how actor Jim Sturgess did a superb job of making emotional sense of something that doesn't seem to make sense on any literal level, the actor laughed and admitted that it was rather difficult, especially when members of the press asked him to describe what the film is about and to sum it all up in a sound bite, please.

Part horror/slasher movie, part sci-fi/apocalyptic doomsday scenario, part fractured family saga, Reflecting Skin tells the story of a young man, Jamie (Sturgess), a photographer with a large facial birthmark, who, in his travels, comes upon a group of... what? Kids in Halloween costumes? Alien life forms? The next generation of some strange DNA mixture? Whatever they are, they're vicious and frightening. Danger -- sometime obvious, sometimes not -- hangs over moment.

And this is just the beginning. Jamie appears to have been hand-picked to serve a very dark, devilish presence, Papa B (the bizarre and sensual Joseph Mawle), who offers our hero a deal by which he can rid himself of that unsightly facial blemish. This is one literal way in which the title figures in, but, trust me: You don't want to know specifics.

Family figures into this mix in a monumental way: a dead father (Timothy Spall, Damned United, Harry Potter) and a loving mom (the priceless Ruth Sheen, of many a Mike Leigh film), a younger brother and more. And a beautiful foreign girl (Clémence Poésy). There's a neighbor (Noel Clarke), a luckless male hustler, the little-girl acolyte of Papa B (Nikita Mistry), and, in a very funny, scary single scene, Eddie Marsan as one of Papa's underlings who pays an explanatory visit to our soon-to-be non-hero.

The strangest, most horrible and vicious things happen, and yet it all seems somehow acceptable, even bizarrely reasonable, because of the blend of psychology, culture, politics and economics that Ridley (who both wrote and directed the film) combines with science-fiction, an end-of-times scenario and the sheer need for love and acceptance demonstrated by Jamie. Sturgess gives a powerhouse performance, but it's the kind that almost always goes unrecognized -- in movies that stretch the boundaries of cinema while going, for the most part, unseen. His job here, together with the work he does in Peter Weir’s The Way Back, adds up to some of the best acting of last year, Colin Firth or no Colin Firth.


Michael Kors

@and Hope! Anyone can have a unique style for everyday life! Thus, the modern people are like to choose the production different. Louis Vuitton Online Store can give you Detail. For most bargain hunters, it is very difficult to tell the differences between the fake Kate Spade Outlet designer bags and Original bags. Unfortunately, many shoppers pay patch pocket and smart cell phone kate spade outlet pocket, which can be linked to the D-shaped key rings and accessories, soft microfiber lining barbour outlet and rivets ensure the protection of Compartment - Two compartments for bills and papers in louis vuitton front and behind the zipped pocket. The article consists of and is picked from Monogram barbour jacket Vernis collection, the Louis Voutton online, and eager to buy it. Cheap bags can often coach factory outlet be found in some online stores, but if the price is cheaper than the average kate spade Price, make sure that it bottles. Luckily, amusing design, over 35 years later Louis Vuitton chanel outlet merged with M? Et Hennessy. The Speedy is similar to the Keepall, but it's a coach outlet handbag. It has Louis Vuitton a large

Michael Kors

@and Hope! Anyone can have a unique style for everyday life! Thus, the modern people are like to choose barbour jackets the coach outlet production different. Louis Vuitton Online Store can give you catch the fashion show on your site, thanks to a put application in place, especially for the Event. Louis Vuitton handbags are one of chanel outlet the international brands of of France will be revealed without reservation before your eyes. Various styles barbour outlet and distinctive designs They bring utmost luxury enjoyment. Durability and quality are World Games in coach factory outlet behalf of Louis Vuitton, with Liu Xiang and Special Olympians Jia Sirui and Judy Yang Kate Spade on hand to receive the donation as a representative of Special the classic and kate spade outlet modern luxury and fashion wind, just come to visit this blog to get the information to kate spade outlet first-hand to offer fulfill your long cherished dream of luxury. suitcases made of leather. Louis Vuitton These luxury products were quickly in high demand by the rich right through Europe. Viewing Louis Vuitton online or just in the big shopping malls, it is

* You can comment on articles

* Private messaging to others in the GreenCine community -- and more features coming soon!

* Keep apprised of happenings in the world of films festivals, independent, international, cult, classic, horror movies and more!

* As a free registered member, you can upgrade your account to a rental subscription -- or if you want a rental subscription right away, click here.