by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Michael Sheen as COLIN
Mark Addy as RON
Jim Carter as GEOFF
Celia Imrie as SONJA
Ruth Jones as MANDY
Phillipa Peak as SARAH
Jane Robbins as SANDRA
Created by: Damien O’Donnell
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Love and darts.
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It’s a subject that lights a fire under the seat of about 30 people in America. Maybe there’s a bit more excitement for the subject in the UK. But unlike the marketing copy on the cover box, this is hardly the crossover hit that we saw with “The Full Monty.”
Yes, people. This film is about darts.
Now, I think part of the point was to show a guy with a very narrow hobby. After all, he idolizes dart champion Eric Bristow, whom he gets to see in person eventually. Puh-lease. Who the heck even knows who Eric Bristow is???
Maybe it was just that writer Paul Fraser and director Den O’Donnell are big fans of darts. But unlike the American film “Rounders,” which focuses on the relatively narrow sport of professional poker, there just isn’t the same stakes in darts.
But fear not. This film isn’t just about darts. When you strip away all the dart talk and focus they give this pub sport, it’s more of a coming of age film for a man in his 30s. However, this is a different type of coming-of-age that we see in the American Generation X flicks. This film has a more mature approach than foul-mouthed slackers trying to find meaning in promiscuous sex and hard drinking.
“Heartlands” tells the story of Colin (Michael Sheen) a run-of-the-mill guy with a run-of-the-mill life (and a really bad haircut to boot). He runs a local convenience store and generally lets everyone walk all over him. However, when he discovers his wife has been cheating on him with his pub mate and darts partner Geoff (Jim Carter).
Geoff manages to boot Colin from the team and brings the adulterous Sandra (Jane Robbins) with him to the big darts championship. Something snaps in Colin, and he throws off his everyday life and decides to take a cross-country journey on his motor scooter and win Sandra back. Along the way, he finds a larger world that is no doubt more appealing than his humdrum life.
The best part of this film, which is loaded up with folk style music from the British Isles. It might even be more worth the money to get the soundtrack rather than the DVD. However, with such an obscure European film, you probably aren’t going to find the soundtrack at the local Best Buy.
Sure, “Heartlands” is an uplifting movie. But I just never quite swallowed the darts thing, with the bitter pub banter and the roving dart intimidation gangs hitting on bloated, unattractive cheating wives. Maybe if they had centered it around a more exciting sport, like shuffleboard or tiddlywinks.