A lot of movies these days definitely wear their hearts on their sleeves. They offer popcorn-chewing, edge-of-your-seat action but fall flat when it comes to characters and plot. Philip Ridley’s “Heartless” offers something that is as intelligent as it is chilling. Jim Sturgess (“Across the Universe,” “21”) gives a breathtaking performance and wears his heart in a different place.
“Heartless” is the story of Jamie Morgan (Sturgess), a self-made outcast because of the heart-shaped birthmark that covers most of his face. Afraid of being rejected and ridiculed, Jamie uses his love and talent for photography to live life from a distance. After a day like any other, Jamie’s life takes a turn down a different path when he notices something in a photograph he took of a building — an eerie face peering out through the window.
Instantly becoming obsessed, Jamie begins investigating the building and its inhabitants. After his “quest” brings about a tragedy in his family and all seems hopeless for Jamie, a stranger comes with a deal. And Jamie quickly learns that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Philip Ridley is a masterful storyteller. He has created something that can’t be neatly packaged in one box. “Heartless” creates a schizophrenic world where personalities peacefully coexist instead of conflicting. Ridley has written such a deep character with Jamie Morgan. Everyone has had something to be ashamed of or mocked for in life, and this is the reason why Jamie is so easily sympathetic When the movie starts, you feel as though you are seeing any other movie where an outcast harbors an unrequited love for a girl whom he knows is beyond his reach. But after the first 20 minutes, Ridley throws a curve ball. As Jamie digs deeper into the figure he caught on film, he comes to realize that the inhabitants aren’t from this world.
There is one scene in particular that is simple yet chilling. As Jamie quietly pursues the hooded figure from his photo, there are very low animalistic growls resonating from the figure. Without giving too much away, the viewer is never given a full shot of the figure’s face but the sounds alone send chills down your spine. Ridley does a beautiful job getting his viewers to create more to the scene in their minds than is ever shown.
This movie was definitely not a solo effort. Sturgess’s performance was the best of the film and one of his personal best. He was able to bring so much depth to Jamie that it was nearly impossible not to have feelings for him. Even after he does some heinous acts, I still felt for his character. While many of the characters are two-dimensional, I don’t believe it’s due to their faults. I believe that Jamie is so removed from everyone that he has very little attachment to them.
“Heartless” is definitely not without its flaws but it is extremely enjoyable from beginning to end.
The special features look good on paper. The “making-of” is interesting if you like the film and the U.S. and U.K. trailers are both included. There are also two music videos from Sturgess, who lent his musical talents for the soundtrack, but the quality of the video reminds me of a bad recording of a grade-school play.
Film: 4 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps