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Spartan Home Entertainment presents
Heart (1999)

"Who'll get his heart?"
- Maria (Saskia Reeves)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 05, 2002

Stars: Saskia Reeves, Christopher Eccleston
Other Stars: Katie Hardie, Rhys Ifans, Anna Chancellor, Matthew Rhys
Director: Charles McDougall

MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexuality and language
Run Time: 01h:21m:30s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 804868409278
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+C+B D

DVD Review

You have to like a film that opens with a dazed and blood-soaked woman boarding a passenger train carrying a bag that appears to be dripping copious amounts of something red. Her immediate arrest by police begins her unusual recollections which drive Charles McDougall's offbeat thriller Heart, where the lives of five very real characters are drawn together tragically when a traffic accident leaves 17-year-old Sean McCardle (Matthew Rhys) in a vegetative state. First, there is Maria McCardle (Saskia Reeves), the distraught and deeply religious mother of Sean, who hesitantly complies with her son's wish to be an organ donor. At the same time, Gary Ellis (Christopher Eccleston) has suffered a near fatal heart attack as a result of a heated argument with his wife concerning her infidelities, and he is set to receive the next available heart, which just happens to be Sean's. Meanwhile, Gary's horny wife Tess (Kate Hardie) continues with her bump and grind affair with loudmouth writer Alex (Rhys Ifans), and Nicola (Anna Chancellor) is the doe-eyed young woman whose drug use caused the accident in the first place. Maria's second-guessing of the organ donation scenario is further tested when she finally meets Gary after the transplant, and her unnatural attraction to him borders on nothing short of stalking.McDougall's film, driven by a cunning screenplay from English television vet Jimmy McGovern, is like a cinematic blob of mercury; it is extremely difficult to pin down, and it is constantly moving in unexpected directions. All of the main characters spout naturally believable dialogue, and their reactions to certain increasingly bizarre situations is also layered nicely as part of the well-written script that is as full of dark comedy as it is startling violence. Heart features one of those refreshing screenplays where you are never quite sure where things are headed, and even if you think you are, you're not exactly sure how. I really enjoyed Saskia Reeves' performance as the harried Maria, who balances her quiet desperation and grief behind a emotionless mask. Midway through, Maria relays a story to Gary about an incident that occurred when her son Sean was only six. It is uncomfortable, disturbing and unexpected, and Reeves delivers it with a powerful level of detachment that is unnerving in it's impact. All of the supporting players are solid, but Reeves is excellent here.The soundtrack is peppered with a hip mix of obscure pop tunes, as well as a few modern underground nuggets. The songs figure prominently as a narrative tool, and McDougall inserts them strategically to help generate some appropriate dark humor, such as during the heart transplant sequence where the onscreen actions are anything but comedic. The inclusion of the songs isn't overdone, and it contributes to the general quirkiness of the overall film.With a length of only 81 minutes, Heart reinforces the concept that a film's merit can't always be fully measured in theatrical runtime, much like Christopher Nolan's similarly brief Following has shown. Worst case scenario is, in case you absolutely abhor this film, to drink a shot every time Gary wears the same bright blue shirt, which he does in literally every scene.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 full-frame transfer is plagued by colors that appear a bit flat. Some scenes fare better than others (Gary's initial heart attack sequence, for example, which uses a pleasing blend of primary colors), but in general the color field is devoid of any natural warmth. Fleshtones look inconsistent throughout, tending to be mostly too red at times. Black levels are less than perfect, with shadow depth poor, as a result. The print also has a significant amount of soft grain, and a fair amount of tiny white specks.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Heart is dialogue-driven film, and consequently the 2.0 surround audio transfer does not rely too heavily on excessive rear channel for anything other than simple ambient cues. Decent directional imaging across the fronts, with vehicles moving from left to right, appropriately. The English accents, which can be a bit thick at times, are generally clear and understandable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A theatrical trailer that reveals far too much and brief cast filmographies are the only supplements here.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

This is a devilishly twisted look at love, lust and organ donation that moves along with a heady mix of sex, violence and quirky spins to make for a very unusual way to spend 81 minutes.The lack of extras, and the short runtime, don't necessarily make this a required purchase, but it should at least be sought out as a rental, especially if your tastes run a bit left of center.Recommended.


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