The Heart of Me Thaddeus O'Sullivan

The Heart of Me is a relatively engaging romantic drama set in England between the first and second World Wars. An ill-advised affair with his wife's sister leaves his marriage in tatters and Rickie (Paul Bettany) must choose between his loveless wife Madelin and her flaky sister Dinah. Decades pass and the affair continues, driving a wedge between the two sisters (played by Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams). The plot puts a number of formidable obstacles between Rickie and his would-be lover, not the least of which are the institution of marriage and the social conventions of 1930s England, with both serving to alienate Rickie from his true love. And even though the action skips back and forth between decades, it's always clear where we are in the chronology. What is left vague, however, is how (if at all) each of these characters should be judged in relation to the film's moral code. Initially, it's easy to vilify the seductress sister, but as years pass, it becomes evident that the affair is tinged with something close to true love. And since it's obvious from the start that the marriage is doomed, the film becomes more about finding motivation for each characters' actions than finding out who is going to end up with whom. The DVD comes with a commentary in which the director and the screenwriter trash the source novel for the film (Rosamond Lehmann's The Echoing Grove). "I always found the dialogue in the book so disappointing compared to what you wrote," gushes O'Sullivan to screenwriter Lucinda Coxon, which isn't very gracious. Also included are several short interviews with the cast, and one deleted scene, which little to further illuminate the story. (Th!nkFilm)