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The Lawless Heart

It may begin with a funeral, but Hunter and Hunsinger's marvellous second feature is no dour affair. Indeed, within seconds, as Dan (Nighy) copes clumsily with having to converse with a French woman (Célarié) to whom he's clearly attracted, you'll most likely be laughing at the all too familiar Englishness on view. Not that the film's an out and out comedy, either. Rather, as it juxtaposes, in sequential sections, the stories of three mourners - Dan, the deceased's brother-in-law; Nick (Hollander), the dead man's lover; and Tim (Henshall), the best friend who's been abroad for years - it ranges through a variety of moods to chart how the men and those close to them are changed (or not) by unexpected death; and how it prompts them to rethink happiness, home, responsibility, desire, needs. Just in terms of narrative ingenuity, the film would impress for the expert interweaving of its different strands. Its sense of place, too, is spot-on (the small towns, farmland and estuaries of the Essex coast). But what really raises the film above most recent British fare is its emotional depth, richness and authenticity. Poignant, funny, fresh and perceptive, it's a terrific film that puts all those mockney crime pix and feelgood rom coms in the shade.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Neil Hunter, Tom Hunsinger
Screenwriter: Neil Hunter, Tom Hunsinger
Cast: Bill Nighy
Douglas Henshall
Tom Hollander
Clémentine Célarié
Ellie Haddington
Sukie Smith
Josephine Butler
Stuart Laing
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