The Heart of Me

A BBC film and a reminder of those dramas that it used to do. They were excellent in the re-creation of a period, boasted strong performances and were very civilised in their treatment of serious treatment of life issues and relationships. That is exactly what The Heart of Me is like.

Some audiences profess themselves weary of this kind of restrained, even slow-moving, traditional drama. Others enjoy it because it is so well crafted and offers insight into the human condition. The author of the original novel is Rosamond Lehman and it is suggested that it is semi-autobiographical concerning her long relationship with poet Cecil Day Lewis.

It is a dramatic three-hander, a story of an intense triangle. The first part of the film is set in London in 1934, opening with the funeral of the beloved father of two very different sisters. Madeleine, played superbly by Olivia Williams, is loving but reticent, even cold. Dinah, Helena Bonham Carter doing excellently what she has done before, is a free spirit. Rickie, Madeleine's gentlemanly and devoted husband, is played by Paul Bettany. Everything is altered when Rickie's feelings for Dinah surface and he begins an affair. This is a perennial theme of films but it is treated here with sympathy for each of the three characters while showing their unpleasant sides and how deeply they hurt each other.

When the scene moves to 1946, we are aware of what has happened but are not sure whether the characters know the truth. This is revealed in flashbacks which develop well the complications in the relationships and how each character is able (or not able) to deal with the hurt and the betrayals. The characters are so well portrayed, bringing to life the complications and emotional pain, that the film should satisfy audiences who prefer their drama low-key but intense. LONDON - 9 May 2003 - 311 words

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