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Good Heart, The (DVD Review)

10 Jul, 2010 By: Daniel Xu

Prebook 7/13/10; Street 8/10/10
Box Office $0.02 million
$26.98 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language and a disturbing image.
Stars Brian Cox, Paul Dano.

It takes exactly one scene for Brian Cox to settle into his typical role of the curmudgeon — having a heart attack while trying to relax to a meditation tape. Even the nurse helping him recover wishes aloud that he would drop dead.

The Good Heart tells the sometimes-endearing story of sad people doing their best to keep on living. Cox plays Jacques, a New York dive-bar owner with a failing heart. During his most recent hospital stay, he meets the suicidal homeless lad Lucas (Paul Dano). Realizing his days could be numbered, Jacques decides to take on Lucas as his protégé.

Jacques has a few rules about his tavern: No walk-ins, no fraternizing with the customers and absolutely no women. The meek and almost saintly Lucas, of course, violates all three when a delicate-looking French stewardess (Isild Le Besco) pops in and pleads for help.

Lucas — and even Jacques, deep beneath his foul mouth and bad temper — quietly fulfills the movie’s title through tender gestures and bold character, but the same can hardly be said for writer-director Dagur Kari. In a plot twist that can only be described as nonsensical, dumbfounding and a metaphoric slap-in-the-face, the French-born Icelandic filmmaker, in his English title debut, inexplicably flips this beautifully acted heart-warmer on its head.

Hopefully this unfortunate coda will not discourage viewers from appreciating the two great performances by Cox and Dano.

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