THE GOOD HEART
Director: Dagur Kári
Cast: Brian Cox, Paul Dano, Isild Le Besco
MPAA Rating: (for language and a disturbing image)
Running Time: 1:35
Release Date: 4/30/10 (limited); 5/7/10 (wider)
Review by Mark Dujsik | May 6, 2010
The Good Heart
moves unstoppably toward frustration. Writer/director
Dagur Kári obviously started with the ending of his script and worked backwards.
There is no other way to
explain the lame O. Henry ending, which should be dripping with irony except
that a single, harmless exchange early on telegraphs exactly what will happen.
in hand, Kári spends the extended time in between the windup and the pitch
creating the atmosphere and personality of a dive bar and its staff and
customers. It's almost enough to
occasionally forget where the story is inevitably heading and the sharp turns Kári
has to make to get there.
major part of the middle section's momentary successes comes from the strong
performances of common characterizations from Brian Cox and Paul Dano.
plays Jacques, a foul-mouthed misanthrope who owns and runs a bar on the
drabbest street in New York City. Jacques
has a bad heart beyond his personality, and when he first appears on screen, he
has another in a series of heart attacks (after becoming aggravated by a
relaxation tape, no less).
is Lucas, a homeless kid who lives in a cardboard box on another dreary street. Lucas has a kind heart, caring for a stray kitten with his cat food
dinner and handing out the money he comes across to the other people in the food
line. His hands are always slightly
raised, as though anticipating warding off an attack. When he talks, it's in hushed tones, as his voice hasn't had the same
workout as Jacques'.
two end up sharing the same hospital room (after Lucas attempts suicide), and
Jacques, despite his hateful tendencies, enjoys spending time with the kid. After being released from the hospital, Jacques finds Lucas, brings him
to the bar, and tells him he will be the new owner of the bar after Jacques'
scenes of Jacques teaching Lucas the ropes of running a bar are enjoyable. The regulars come in at their regular time, order their regular drinks,
and have their regular conversations. Jacques
knows what they want and tells Lucas he needs to learn what the customers want
before they even know they want it. Be
familiar but not friendly, he tells the kid. "We're not here to save people; we're here to destroy them," he
of course, is contrary to Lucas' view of the world. He brings in his homeless friends from the street to drink his failed
attempts at brewing Jacques' ideal kind of coffee. He asks the regulars about their lives and
families. When a pretty flight attendant named April (Isild Le Besco) comes into
the bar after closing time in tears, he lets her in and opens up a bottle of
champagne (It's only for major sports victories, Jacques complains later), so
she can tell her story of being fired for her fear of flying. Yeah, right.
April shows up, it's all downhill for Jacques, Lucas, and the mild good grace
the movie has earned with its bartending tips. April needs a place to stay, Lucas falls for her (for no reason except
that she's the only woman Jacques has ever allowed in the bar), and she becomes
this point, Kári's extension of the yarn's beginning and end has run its
course, leaving Lucas to take on Jacques' cynicism and Jacques to make a quick,
inexplicable turnaround. Taking in
the kid is the first step, but there are a few others missing here before he
starts liking April (after making his opinion of women in general quite evident
with a few, well-chosen, nasty phrases) and spares the Christmas duck they've
been raising in the bar (The health inspectors must have deemed this place a
lost cause a long time ago).
can't make the transition believable, because it's so out-of-character. Still, he delivers his rants and raves and strings of profanity at any
available target with acidic precision.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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